Saturday, December 20, 2014   

American general nearly escaped sex assault charges
(03-05 10:41)

The former lead prosecutor in a sexual assault case against a US Army general wanted most of the charges dropped after he became convinced the accuser had lied.
That testimony came Tuesday at a hearing in a military court in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, for Brigadier General Jeffrey A. Sinclair, (Pictured) who faces a court-martial on charges that include physically forcing a female captain under his command to perform oral sex.
He is a former commander of the famed 82nd Airborne division.
Sinclair's attorneys say if the former lead prosecutor, Lt. Col. William Helixon, thought the charges should be dropped, they should be, AP reports.
Brigadier Gen. Paul Wilson testified that Helixon was drunk and suicidal last month when he visited him at a Washington hotel room. Wilson says Helixon didn't want to pursue the case but thought it was of strategic importance to the military's crackdown on sexual assaults.
Sinclair, once a rising star among the US Army's top battle commanders, is believed to be the most senior member of the US military to face trial for sexual assault. It is extremely rare for such a high-ranking military officer to face a jury.
He is now fighting charges that could get him life in a military prison if convicted.
Sinclair, 51, has pleaded not guilty to eight criminal charges including forcible sodomy, indecent acts, violating orders, and conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman.
While denying the sexual assault accusation, lawyers for the married father of two have said he carried on a three-year extramarital affair with the junior officer during war tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. The admission of an affair will almost certainly end his Army career.
Prosecutors have described Sinclair as a sexual predator who abused his position of authority to prey on a subordinate trained to follow his orders. They also say he threatened to kill her and her family if she told anyone of their relationship.
The Associated Press does not publicly identify the alleged victims of sexual assaults.
Sinclair's defense lawyers suggest the general is the victim, both of a jealous ex-lover and of overzealous prosecutors facing intense pressure from top military and political leaders to send a message that sexual misconduct will not be tolerated.
The lead military prosecutor resigned just weeks before the start of the court martial.
Under the military justice system, members of the panel must be senior in rank to the accused _ ensuring that Sinclair will be judged by a jury of generals.

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