FORT BRAGG, N.C., March 4 (UPI) -- The court-martial of U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Jeff Sinclair, accused of adultery and other charges, began with pre-trial motions Tuesday at Fort Bragg. N.C.
Sinclair, 51, married with two children, has acknowledged a consensual adulterous affair with his accuser, his girlfriend of three years and an Army captain 17 years younger than he.
He faces eight criminal charges and 22 specifications of wrongdoing, and is only the third Army general in 50 years to face a court-martial..
His legal team has said he is willing to accept punishment on the adultery charge and retire from the Army. He is contesting the other charges, which include violating orders, conduct unbecoming an officer and forcing the girlfriend to provide oral sex.
The judge, Col. James Pohl, Tuesday was asked to recuse himself from the case. The defense noted Pohl is a friend of Brig. Gen. Martin P. Schweitzer, who received a threatening e-mail from Sinclair which could potentially be used in the trial.
Pohl concluded he would stay on as judge, the (Fayetteville, N. C.) Observer reported.
The Army's handling of the case is being closely watched in Washington, where the U.S. Senate is scheduled to consider a bill stripping military commanders of their long-standing authority to prosecute sexual assaults in the military, the Washington Post said.
A bill sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., addresses concerns that military commanders have failed to stop sex abuse. It would give uniformed prosecutors the power to decide whether to press charges.