A so-called Article 32 hearing on evidence in the case against Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair began Monday at Fort Bragg, a sprawling post that is home to the 82nd Airborne Division. Officials said it was expected to last at least two days.
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 Army had kept details secret until now in the rare criminal case against a high-ranking officer. That is different from other high-profile case where Army prosecutors were quick to release charging documents.
In March, the Army quickly released charge sheets laying out evidence against Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the soldier accused of gunning down 17 Afghan civilians during a massacre in southern Afghanistan.
The first Article 32 hearing in Bale’s case also began Monday across the country in Washington at Joint Base Lewis-McChord south of Seattle.
There have been only two other court-martial cases against Army generals in recent years.
Prosecutors in Sinclair’s case alleged at Monday’s hearing that the crimes happened between 2007 and 2012 in places including Iraq, Afghanistan and Germany, as well as Fort Bragg and Fort Hood in Texas.
In one case, prosecutors also said that Sinclair threatened one woman’s career, as well as her life and the lives of her relatives, if she told anyone about his actions.
Sinclair’s attorney asked for the charges to be thrown out, arguing that prosecutors had read confidential emails between the general and his defense. Defense attorney Lt. Col. Jackie Thompson said this violated his client’s rights and asked that new prosecutors be brought in to try the case.
The hearing officer called a recess until early Monday afternoon to give a legal adviser time to review the documents.