FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- U.S. Army prosecutors offered the first details of a rare criminal case against a general, alleging in a military hearing yesterday that he committed sex-related crimes involving four female officers and a civilian.
It was the first day of a hearing at Fort Bragg, home to the 82nd Airborne Division, on evidence in the case against Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair. The Article 32 hearing, similar to a grand jury proceeding in civilian court, was expected to take at least two days.
Before prosecutors could start presenting their case, defense lawyer Lt. Col. Jackie Thompson said military investigators had violated his client's rights by reading confidential emails he exchanged with his lawyers and wife discussing the accusations against him.
Under Thompson's questioning, the lead investigator acknowledged she had read the emails, violating the terms of the subpoena used to obtain them from Sinclair's service provider. The emails were later turned over to prosecutors, who are barred from seeing Sinclair's communications with his counsel.
Thompson then asked Special Agent Leona Mansapit of the Criminal Investigative Command 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, Maj. Gen. Perry L. Wiggins, either to require all new prosecutors to be assigned or that the case be thrown 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.
The Army had kept details secret until now in the rare criminal case against a high-ranking officer. That is different from another high-profile case in which Army prosecutors didn't hold charging documents back.
In March, the Army quickly released charge sheets laying out evidence against Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the soldier accused of gunning down 16 Afghan civilians during a massacre in southern Afghanistan.