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Army sex case: Army sex trial begins despite prosecutor's tearful breakdown

An Army sex case and court-martial trial against Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair is set to begin this week, despite the former lead prosecutor breaking down in tears less than a month ago over what he believed were lies uttered by the primary accuser while under oath. / AP
Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, a decorated Army general, faces life in jail for sexual assaulting a female subordinate.

According to Fox News today, a citizen jury – a rare trial setting for a military officer – will hear opening statements Thursday regarding General Sinclair’s eight charges of alleged sexual abuse, including forcible sodomy, indecent acts, violating orders and conduct unbecoming. Under the military justice system, jury trials are generally comprised of senior ranking armed forces’ officials.

The former deputy commander of the 82nd Airborne will face a sentence of life in prison if convicted.

Sinclair’s trial is moving forward despite the former lead prosecutor William Helixon, in a tearful and drunk state, breaking down and telling superior officer Brig. Gen. Paul Wilson that he believed the victim lied about crucial evidence. Helixon also said that he felt overwhelming pressure to “pursue the charges for strategic reasons.”

Defense attorneys have asked the judge to dismiss the serious sexual charges, saying top brass at the Pentagon have illegally impeded the investigation in their zeal to bring someone down. Allegations of sexual misconduct continue to make headlines, sending the Pentagon reeling on how to deal with the suspected abuses.

Wilson was called on to testify about what Helixon told him when Wilson found him in his Washington hotel room last month. Wilson said Helixon appeared drunk and suicidal, and he was taken for a mental health evaluation.

“He was in the midst of a personal crisis. He was crying. He was illogical,” Wilson said. “I truly believed if he could have stepped in front of a bus at the time, I think he would have.”

Prosecuting attorneys say Sinclair, a married father of two, carried on a three-year extramarital affair with a junior officer, then threatened to kill her and her family if she told anyone.

“We’re in a remarkable place,” Richard Scheff, Sinclair’s lead defense lawyer, said this week. “The chief witness lied under oath. The lead prosecutor resigned because he found her untruthful and non-credible. The army’s senior leaders agree with his assessment. And yet we’re going to trial.”

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