Judge finds unlawful influence in sexual assault case, won't dismiss charges

Despite the appearance of unlawful command influence, a judge refuses to drop sexual assault charges against Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair.
By Gabrielle Levy   |   March 10, 2014 at 4:36 PM

FORT BRAGG, N.C., March 10 (UPI) -- The judge overseeing the sexual assault trial of Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair rejected yet another effort by the defense to get charges dropped, but found there was appearance of unlawful command influence by officials at the Pentagon.

Col. James Pohl said emails turned over by the prosecution appeared to have influenced a general's decision to take a potential plea bargain off the table, but that dismissing the most serious charges against Sinclair was not the appropriate response.

The decision comes hours after Pohl dismissed the jury for the day in order to review the emails, and was followed by an order allowing the defense to submit a new offer to plead guilty.

In December, Sinclair offered to plead guilty to lesser charges that included adultery and conduct unbecoming an officer, both of which are crimes under military law. As part of the proposed deal, Sinclair would retire with a lesser rank if the military agreed to drop the sexual assault charges.

Sinclair, 51, is accused of forcing a 34-year-old captain to perform oral sex and threatened to kill her and her family if she exposed their affair. The accuser has admitted to previously carrying out a consensual relationship with Sinclair.

Sinclair faces life in prison if found guilty.

[Fayetteville Observer]

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