Nation Briefs 03-06-14 General to admit guilty on three lesser charges

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RALEIGH, N.C. -- A U.S. Army general accused of sexually assaulting a junior officer will admit guilt on three lesser charges but maintains his innocence on allegations that he forced her to perform oral sex, his lawyer said Wednesday night.

Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair was set to enter the plea this morning before opening statements are scheduled for his court martial at Fort Bragg. The primary accuser in the case is a female captain who claims Sinclair twice ended arguments about their relationship by unzipping his pants and forcing her head into his lap.

The woman says her commander threatened to kill her family if she told anyone about their three-year affair, which continued after the alleged assaults.

Sinclair's lawyer Richard Scheff said the general will plead guilty to having improper relationships with two other female Army officers and to committing adultery with his mistress, which is a crime in the military. He will also admit violating orders by possessing pornography in Afghanistan and to conduct unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman.

Sinclair, the former deputy commander of the 82nd Airborne, faces life in prison if convicted of the remaining sexual assault charges.

Scheff said in an interview that his client is taking responsibility for his actions, but also strengthening his legal position headed into trial. The general had previously entered pleas of not guilty to all eight charges.

Develops options for Afghanistan: The top U.S. military officer says the Pentagon has developed several options for the size of the post-2014 force in Afghanistan, ranging from zero to 10,000 troops. But he says that with every day that goes by some of the options become less likely. Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, who was in Afghanistan last week, tells the Senate Armed Services Committee that there will be a period of greater instability in that country after the April elections. President Barack Obama last week ordered the Pentagon to begin planning for a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan because Afghan President Hamid Karzai refuses to sign a bilateral security agreement that would enable troops to stay.

To look into vets' PTSD lawsuit: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says he is personally looking into the lawsuit filed earlier this week by Vietnam veterans who suffered from post-traumatic stress and received less than honorable discharges from the military. Hagel told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he has asked his lawyers to get him more information on the matter, and promised that he would "get into it." Hagel is a twice-wounded Vietnam veteran and received two Purple Hearts. It was the first public comments from a defense official on the lawsuit filed Monday by five Vietnam veterans and three veterans' organizations. The veterans are seeking to have the discharges upgraded so they can receive benefits. The lawsuit filed in Connecticut says the military has systematically denied applications for upgrades involving evidence of PTSD.

Facebook to delete posts: Under pressure from gun control advocates, Facebook agreed Wednesday to delete posts from users seeking to buy or sell weapons illegally or without a background check. A similar policy will be applied to Instagram, the company's photo-sharing network, Facebook said. The measures will be put into effect over the next few weeks at the world's largest social network, with 1.3 billion active users.

Puts spotlight on CIOs: The departure of Target's chief information officer Beth Jacob in the wake of the company's massive pre-Christmas data breach highlights the increased pressure facing executives who are charged with protecting corporate computer systems from hackers whose attacks are on the rise and becoming more sophisticated. CIOs from companies in all walks of business --from retail to banking and drug discovery-- are using the Target breach as a rallying point to call attention to their struggle and garner additional funds and manpower to fight digital threats. Cyberattacks were on the rise long before Target's news that hackers had stolen 40 million debit and credit card numbers, along with the personal information belonging to as many as 70,000 people.

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