FORT BRAGG, N.C., March 5 (UPI) -- The sexual assault trial against Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair went forward Wednesday, after a military judge rejected a motion to dismiss charges when a prosecutor raised questions about the accuser's testimony.
Ahead of the trial, set to go before a jury of generals as soon as Thursday, Sinclair's lawyers argued that the lead prosecutor had raised questions about the testimony of the junior officer, who claims he sexually assaulted her.
The prosecutor, Lt. Col. William Helixon, had come to believe the accuser, a 34-year-old captain, had perjured herself during a pretrial hearing, in which she said she found an iPhone with messages between herself and Gen. Sinclair, 51. Forensic evidence conflicted with the captain's testimony.
Helixon has since withdrawn from the case, citing personal issues.
Civilian defense attorney Richard L. Scheff, leading the defense, took the stand Tuesday, saying Helixon had “told me that General Sinclair was a war hero, that he deserved to be able to retire.”
The defense alleged the prosecution had faced pressure from Congress and Pentagon officials to push forward with the case, despite misgivings, thanks to heightened concern over sexual assault in armed services and how cases are handled by military brass.
Col. James L. Pohl, the judge, rejected the motion to dismiss charges, as he has done twice before. The Army, in a document presented at court, acknowledged the conversation between Scheff and Helixon, but denied Helixon had doubted the accusations, saying only they might be difficult to prove.
Sinclair has admitted to a sexual relationship with his accuser, but claims the relationship was consensual. He also faces other charges, including adultery, which is a crime under military law.
[New York Times]