FORT BRAGG: Trial of Brig. Gen. Sinclair to resume Monday - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken News, Weather, Sports

Trial of Brig. Gen. Sinclair to resume Monday

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Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair was charged in 2012 with criminal counts that include twice physically forcing a woman to perform oral sex. Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair was charged in 2012 with criminal counts that include twice physically forcing a woman to perform oral sex.
FORT BRAGG, N.C. -

The trial for an Army general charged with sexual assault will resume Monday, Fort Bragg announced Friday.

Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair is accused of twice forcing a female captain to perform oral sex on him in Afghanistan in 2011 during a three-year extramarital affair.

Attorneys for Sinclair said Tuesday that they had decided to try to renegotiate a plea bargain with a new set of military officials after Judge Col. James Pohl determined that the case may have been improperly influenced by political concerns from the Pentagon.

Pohl had declined to dismiss the charges outright on Monday. But he reviewed newly disclosed emails in Sinclair's case and said he found the appearance of "unlawful command influence" in Fort Bragg officials' decision to reject a plea bargain with the general in January.

Sinclair's defense team had offered the deal a month earlier. The decision to reject the plea meant the case went to court-martial.

The trial is scheduled to resume March 17 at 9 a.m. at the Fort Bragg Court House.

Unless a plea agreement is reached by Monday, the hearing is expected to deal only with procedural issues like whether the judge should designate someone other than Fort Bragg's base commander with the authority to accept a plea agreement, Sinclair spokesman Josh Zeitz said.

After Tuesday's decision, Pohl sent the jury of generals back to their duty stations around the world. A new general with new legal advisers would have to be brought in to approve any new deal.

Tuesday's twist came with the Pentagon under heavy pressure from Congress and beyond to combat rape and other sex crimes in the military.

Under the military code of justice, the decision was supposed to be decided solely on the evidence, not its broader political implications.

But Pohl said the emails showed that the military officials who rejected the plea bargain had discussed a letter from the accuser's lawyer. The letter warned that allowing the general to avoid trial would "send the wrong signal."

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