General's court-martial is thrown into jeopardy
FORT BRAGG, N.C. — The sexual assault case against an Army general was thrown into jeopardy on Monday when the judge said the military may have improperly pressed ahead with a trial to send a message about its determination to curb rape and other widespread misconduct.
The judge, Col. James Pohl, refused to dismiss the charges against Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair but offered the defense another chance to plea-bargain the case with a set of military officials not previously involved with the case.
The judge reviewed newly disclosed emails in Sinclair's case and said he found the appearance of “unlawful command influence” in Fort Bragg officials' decision to reject a plea bargain with the general in January.
Under the military code of justice, the decision was supposed to be decided solely on the evidence, not its broader political implications.
Pohl said the emails showed that the military officials who rejected the plea bargain had discussed a letter from the accuser's lawyer. The letter warned that allowing the general to avoid trial would “send the wrong signal.”
Sinclair's attorneys have until Tuesday morning to decide whether to submit a plea-bargain proposal again or proceed with the court-martial, which began last week.
Sinclair, the 51-year-old former deputy commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, is accused of twice forcing a female captain to perform oral sex on him in Afghanistan in 2011 during a three-year extramarital affair. He has admitted to the affair but denied assaulting the woman.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- White House breach ‘a cry out for help,’ alleged intruder’s ex-wife says
- Beads in beauty products called toxin
- 32 structures destroyed in California’s King wildfire
- March around the world seek to put focus on climate change
- U.S. confident it’ll have allies for airstrikes against ISIS
- Officials say too many in the 18-64 age range skip flu vaccination
- Mentally ill Pa. man might go free in 9/11 scare
- NYC’s High Line completed, culminating 15-year effort
- Legislators urge Secret Service to reassess White House security
- Woman gives birth on California freeway shoulder
- 121 tourists stranded on schooner near Statue of Liberty