partlycloudy
Wednesday July 1st, 2015 5:14PM

General to admit guilt on 3 counts, denies assault

By The Associated Press
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - A U.S. Army general accused of sexually assaulting a junior officer will admit guilt on three lesser charges but maintains his innocence on more serious charges stemming from her claim that he forced her to perform oral sex, his lawyer said Wednesday night.

Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair is set to enter the plea Thursday morning before opening statements for his court martial at Fort Bragg. The primary accuser in the case is a female captain who claims Sinclair twice forced her to perform oral sex and threatened to kill her family if she told anyone about their three-year affair.

Sinclair's lawyer Richard Scheff said the general will plead guilty to having improper relationships with two other female Army officers and to committing adultery with his mistress, which is a crime in the military. He will also admit violating orders by possessing pornography in Afghanistan and to conduct unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman.

Scheff said in an interview that his client is taking responsibility for his actions, but also strengthening his legal position headed into trial by pleading guilty to the lesser counts.

By admitting guilt on the charges for which there is the strongest evidence, the married father of two narrows the focus of the upcoming trial to charges that rely heavily on the testimony and credibility of his former mistress.

``The government now has a big problem,'' Scheff said in an email. ``It took pathetically weak assault charges and put a fancy wrapper around them. We just tore the wrapper off. The prosecution team no longer gets to distract us with salacious details about acts that aren't even criminal in the civilian world. All they're left with is a crime that never happened, a witness who committed perjury, and a pile of text messages and journal entries that disprove their claim.''

Sinclair, the former deputy commander of the 82nd Airborne, faces life in prison if convicted of the remaining sexual assault charges.

The defense will present evidence at trial that the female captain lied under oath during a pretrial hearing in January about her handling of old iPhone containing messages between her and the general. Lawyers for Sinclair have painted the woman as a scorned lover who only reported the sexual assault allegations after the general refused to leave his wife.

The captain testified that on Dec. 9, shortly after what she described as a contentious meeting with prosecutors, she rediscovered an old iPhone stored in a box at her home that still contained saved text messages and voicemails from the general. After charging the phone, she testified she synced it with her computer to save photos before contacting her attorney.

However, a defense expert's examination suggested the captain powered up the device more than two weeks before the meeting with prosecutors. She also tried to make a call and performed a number of other operations.

Three additional experts verified those findings.

During a pretrial hearing on Thursday, a top Pentagon lawyer testified that the lead prosecutor assigned to the case for nearly two years, Lt. Col. William Helixon, had urged that the most serious charges against Sinclair be dropped after he became convinced the captain had lied to him about the cell phone. That prosecutor was overruled and then removed from the case last month, after he was described as suffering a profound moral crisis.

The case now heads to trial with a new lead prosecutor, Lt. Col. Robert Stelle, who said in court he doesn't care what his predecessor thought about the strength of the case.
© Copyright 2015 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 6 months ago )
High court to adopt electronic filing of cases
The Supreme Court is belatedly developing an electronic filing system similar to those used in courts around the country, Chief Justice John Roberts said Wednesday in his annual end-of-year report.
7:57PM ( 6 months ago )
Storm brings snow, cold to West for New Year's
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
5:19PM ( 5 months ago )
U.S. News
As SC fire investigated, stats show church fires not unusual
GREELEYVILLE, S.C. (AP) — The Rev. John Taylor immediately recalled what happened 20 years ago when he learned his church was burning, only days after a mass shooting at a black church in Charleston p...
4:47PM ( 27 minutes ago )
The Latest: Cuba embassy plan riles Republican hopefuls
WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States and Cuba will open embassies in their capital cities after more than 50 years of hostilities between the two countries. The latest developments (all times local):__...
4:46PM ( 27 minutes ago )
Emails show top officials aware of Clinton's private address
WASHINGTON (AP) — Senior Obama administration officials, including the White House chief of staff, knew as early as 2009 that Hillary Rodham Clinton was using a private email address for her governmen...
4:25PM ( 49 minutes ago )
Tennessee store owner replaces 'No Gays Allowed' sign
RUTLEDGE, Tenn. (AP) — An East Tennessee hardware store owner who put up a "No Gays Allowed" sign in response to the Supreme Court decision allowing same-sex marriage says he decided to take a "bold"...
12:07PM ( 5 hours ago )
Episcopalians to vote on allowing gay marriage in churches
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Episcopalians were set to vote Wednesday on allowing religious weddings for gay couples, just days after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.In 2003, th...
11:47AM ( 5 hours ago )