As noted in my post last week, members of our Government Investigations and White Collar Crime practice group are representing U.S. Army Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair, former deputy commander of the 82nd Airborne, who faces a rare court martial in Fort Bragg, N.C. for allegedly sexually assaulting an Army Captain.
As reported on the front-page of The New York Times today, the prosecution “came apart” this week. Last week we heard testimony from the Captain who detailed her affair with General Sinclair and the alleged abuse, but as noted by The New York Times “[t]he defense has painted a different picture of the captain, who has received immunity in exchange for her testimony.” The article goes on to explain how “[c]iting the woman’s testimony, diary entries and text messages…” the defense team says “she was jealous that the general would not seek a divorce from his wife,” and worse, “she never mentioned sexual assault until after it was clear that she could face charges of adultery, which often is illegal in the military.” In fact, the texts, emails and diary entries imply that the relationship was loving, passionate and consensual.
Earlier this week, the military judge found evidence of unlawful command influence, reports The Wall Street Journal. Despite the judge’s decision last week to deny defense’s motion contending such influence had tainted the case, new evidence in the form of emails turned over by the prosecution just this past weekend has caused the judge to reconsider. On Monday (March 10), the military judge stopped the court-martial, sent the jury home indefinitely and offered the general the opportunity to submit a new plea offer to a different commander as a result of unlawful command influence. The court concluded that the Convening Authority, LTG Joseph Anderson, was influenced by a letter from the Captain’s special victim counsel urging the general to deny an offer to plead guilty in order to protect against Congress’ efforts to remove sexual assault prosecutions from Army.
As of this posting, the defense continues to negotiate with prosecution regarding a new plea deal. White Collar Alert will continue to provide the latest updates as they unfold.