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General accused of sexual offenses

Rare case against officer is described

FORT BRAGG, N.C. — Army prosecutors offered the first details of a rare criminal case against a general, alleging in a military hearing Monday that he committed sex-related crimes involving four female officers and a civilian.

A hearing on evidence in the case against Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair began Monday at Fort Bragg, home to the 82d Airborne Division. Officials said the Article 32 hearing, similar to a grand jury proceeding in civilian court, was expected to last at least two days.

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But before prosecutors could start presenting their case, defense lawyer Lieutenant Colonel Jackie Thompson said military investigators had violated his client’s rights by reading confidential e-mails he exchanged with his lawyers and wife discussing the accusations against him.

Under questioning from Thompson, the lead investigator for the case acknowledged she had read the confidential e-mails, violating the terms of the subpoena used to obtain them from Sinclair’s service provider. Those e-mails were turned over to prosecutors, who are barred from seeing Sinclair’s communications with his counsel.

Thompson then asked Criminal Investigative Command Special Agent Leona Mansapit if she had the resources she needed to conduct a proper investigation in Sinclair’s case.

‘‘Probably not, sir,’’ Mansapit replied. ‘‘I wish I had.’’

The defense is asking the officer conducting the hearing, Major General Perry L. Wiggins, to either require all new prosecutors to be assigned or throw the case out.

Sinclair faces possible courts martial on charges, including forcible sodomy, wrongful sexual conduct, violating orders, engaging in inappropriate relationships, misusing a government travel charge card, and possessing pornography and alcohol while deployed.

He served as deputy commander in charge of logistics and support for the division’s troops in Afghanistan from July 2010 until he was sent home in May because of the allegations.

The sex-related accusations against Sinclair range from forcing a female officer to perform oral sex to having an extramarital affair with a civilian woman. Sinclair is married, and adultery is a crime under the military code of justice.

In one instance, prosecutors also said that Sinclair threatened one woman’s military career if she refused his advances. Later, prosecutors alleged that he threatened her life and the lives of her relatives if she told anyone about his actions.

Prosecutors alleged the general’s illegal acts took place between 2007 and 2012 in places including Iraq, Afghanistan, and Germany, as well as Fort Bragg and Fort Hood in Texas.

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