FORT BRAGG, North Carolina (Reuters) — An
Army general will be accused of forcing a junior officer to perform oral
sex, grabbing her genitalia against her will and having intercourse with
her in public places when the U.S. government lays out its case against
him on Friday.
But Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair's lawyers say he is
innocent of any sex crimes and is the focus of a rare court-martial
against a top officer because military leaders wanted to look
serious about cracking down on sexual violence in the service.
The government targeted the married one-star general despite flimsy
evidence based on the word of a female captain who revealed their
three-year adulterous affair in a fit of desperation and jealousy,
Sinclair's defense says.
"They have the testimony of one person who has been utterly
discredited at every turn," said Richard Scheff, a civilian lawyer
who serves as Sinclair's lead attorney.
Lawyers will set a roadmap for where the trial is headed when they
give opening statements on Friday in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Their audience will be a panel of five two-star generals chosen to
decide Sinclair's fate.
Sinclair, 51, a married father of two, faces up to life in prison if
found guilty of the most serious charge, forcible sodomy.
On Thursday, he pleaded guilty to lesser offenses that carry a
maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and possible dismissal from
Sinclair admitted to having an extramarital affair with the captain
17 years his junior as well as seeking nude photos from other junior
female officers and viewing pornography while he was deployed in
Afghanistan. He denies sexually assaulting the captain and says the
relationship was consensual, although inappropriate by military