Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair is most likely facing jail time as a prime suspect in sexual misdemeanors that include sodomy, assault, and threatening behavior.
Although the lead prosecutor, Lt. Col. William Helixon, emotionally urged top military officials to drop some of the serious charges, his display of tears and pleading did not change their minds.
The army wants to prosecute the senior ranking official for what they think are unforgivable sex crimes. Sinclair faces life in prison if convicted of the sexual assault charges.
Sinclair has pleaded not guilty to eight sexual assault charges, including forcible sodomy and other indecent acts, according to the AP. He could be the most senior member of the U.S. military ever to face trial for sexual assault.
Sinclair is accused of repeatedly abusing a female in the junior ranks of the military, all the while forcing the young female officer to keep her mouth shut – threatening he would kill her if she didn’t.
Lawyers said Sinclair, the married father of two, carried on a three-year extramarital affair with a female captain under his command during tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pointing out that his admission of an affair will almost certainly end his Army career.
Last month prosecutor Helixon said he believes the primary accuser in the case lied under oath when she testified that the general forced her to perform oral sex on him and that it is her word against his.
Helixon, who worked on the case for almost two years, was removed as prosecutor after a superior officer took him to a military hospital for a mental health evaluation, according to the AP.
Defense attorney Richard L. Scheff said that Helixon left the case because he felt “ethically bound” after failing to convince his superiors to drop the charges against Sinclair, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“Helixon repeatedly stated that the case against Sinclair should not be prosecuted, but that the Army was forcing the case to move forward,” Scheff wrote in the case for dismissal.
However, Helixon’s replacement, Lt. Col. Robert C. Stelle, adamantly denied that Helixon believed the general was not guilty of sexual assault, or that he had withdrawn from the case for ethical reasons.
“At no time did LTC Helixon state that the accused is not guilty of the charged offenses,” Stelle wrote, continuing that Helixon “did not have legal, ethical issues with the case going forward.”
This is despite the breakdown Helixon exhibited, and regardless of why he is no longer on the case, the trial is going ahead.
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