Army Sex Case, Less than a month before an Army general’s trial on sexual assault charges, the lead prosecutor broke down in tears as he told a superior he believed the primary accuser in the case had lied under oath.
Lt. Col. William Helixon had urged that the most serious charges against Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair be dropped because they rely solely on the woman’s accusation that he twice forced her to perform oral sex.
But those above the seasoned sex crimes prosecutor overrode him, rebuffing an offer from Sinclair to plead guilty to lesser charges.
Defense attorneys allege the top brass moved forward because they were worried about the political fallout that would result if the charges were dropped.
Helixon was pulled from the case after leading it for nearly two years, after a superior officer took him to a military hospital for a mental health evaluation, according to testimony.
Following a daylong hearing, a judge ruled the case should go to trial. Opening statements are set for Thursday.
“No offense to Lt. Col. Helixon, but I don’t care what he thinks and neither should the court,” Lt. Col. Robert Stelle, who replaced Helixon as lead prosecutor, told the judge.
The case against Sinclair, believed to be the most senior member of the U.S. military ever to face trial for sexual assault, comes as the Pentagon grapples with a troubling string of revelations involving rape and sexual misconduct within the ranks. Influential members of Congress are also pushing to remove decisions about the prosecution of sex crimes from the military chain of command.
Sinclair, the former deputy commander of the 82nd Airborne, has pleaded not guilty to eight criminal charges including forcible sodomy, indecent acts, violating orders and conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. He faces life in prison if convicted of the sexual assault charges.