FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- An Army general brought back from Afghanistan to face court-martial on a series of sexual misconduct charges deferred entering a plea toay.
Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, who served five combat tours, is headed to trial following a spate of highly publicized military sex scandals involving high-ranking officers that has triggered a review of ethics training across the service branches.
Sinclair had an arraignment hearing today at the Army's Fort Bragg, where he had the opportunity to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. He deferred, and the hearing continued with a defense motion to disqualify prosecutors over emails that were erroneously sent to them.
Though the Army has not yet released the final charges against Sinclair, a preliminary list included forcible sodomy, wrongful sexual conduct, violating orders, engaging in inappropriate relationships and adultery.
A 27-year Army veteran, Sinclair faces life in prison if convicted on the most serious offenses. It's rare for an Army general to face court martial. There have been only two cases in recent years.
More commanders have lost their posts over sex. Of the eighteen generals and admirals, from one star to four stars, fired in recent years, 10 lost their jobs because of sex-related offenses.
That tally does not include retired Army general David Petraeus, who was forced to resign as CIA director in November after he admitted to an affair with the woman who wrote the biography of his military career. The investigation of Petraeus also ensnared Marine Gen. John Allen, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, over thousands of inappropriate emails he exchanged with a Tampa, Fla., socialite.
At an evidentiary hearing for Sinclair in November, prosecutors presented testimony about his conduct with five women who were not his wife, including officers who served under his direct command. The charges involve activities when he was in Afghanistan, Iraq, Germany and at bases in the United States.
Sinclair was deputy commander in charge of logistics and support for the 82nd Airborne Division in Afghanistan before being relieved in May during the criminal probe.
Pays for security at child's school: A north Florida woman is paying an armed deputy to patrol her child's elementary school due to safety concerns following the shooting that killed 20 children in Newtown, Conn. The Daytona Beach News-Journal (http://bit.ly/11NUhQl) reported Laurie Lauria has given the Flagler County School District enough money to cover the costs of keeping a deputy at Old Kings Elementary School for two months. And Superintendent Janet Valentine says Lauria has agreed to cover the costs through the end of the year. There are six resource deputies at the county's high school and middle schools. Officials have considered putting deputies at two elementary schools, but say the costs are prohibitive.
To honor cadaver donors: Medical students at Indiana University-Northwest in Gary will hold an unusual recognition ceremony this week. They will hold a memorial service Friday with the families of six people who donated their bodies for the students' education. The memorial service will give the student doctors, faculty and staff the opportunity to express their thanks for the gifts the donors have provided them.
Expected to return Netanyahu: Israelis focused on economic woes, the stalled Mideast peace process and Iran's nuclear program as they voted today in an election expected to return Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to office with an even more hawkish government. The election comes at a troubled time for Israel, and talks with the Palestinians often took a backseat to social issues in the three-month campaign.Still, many voters said they'd give Netanyahu a third term because they see no viable alternative. Polls suggest hard-line and religious parties that have been his traditional allies will form the core of his next coalition government.
Islamist extremists gone: Malian forces today controlled the strategic town that was under extreme Islamist rule for four months, as the French-led military intervention pushed northward in its second week. Douentza had been the outer edge of Islamist rebel control until the militants surged southward earlier this month. While far from the capital, Douentza is only 190 kilometers (120 miles) northeast from Mopti, which marks the line-of-control held by the Malian military. On Monday, French and Malian troops arrived in Douentza to find that the Islamists already had retreated from the town, local adviser Sali Maiga told Associated Press.