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Army Sex Case Moves Forward Despite Prosecutor's Plea to Drop Charges

Image: Army Sex Case Moves Forward Despite Prosecutor's Plea to Drop Charges Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair

By Clyde Hughes   |   Wednesday, 05 Mar 2014 09:18 AM

The lead prosecutor in the Army sex case against Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair broke down last month and urged top military officials to drop the most serious charges, but the trial will carry on anyway despite his pleas.

Opening statements are scheduled for Thursday.

Sinclair, the former deputy commander of the 82nd Airborne, has pleaded not guilty to eight sexual assault charges, including forcible sodomy and other indecent acts, according to The Associated Press. He is thought to be the most senior member of the U.S. military ever to face trial for sexual assault.

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Last month, prosecutor Lt. Col. William Helixon tearfully begged top military officials to drop the most serious charges against Sinclair because he believes the primary accuser in the case lied under oath, as the testimony relied solely on the woman's word that the general forced her to perform oral sex on him twice.

Helixon, who worked on the case for almost two years, was then removed as prosecutor after a superior officer took him to a military hospital for a mental health evaluation, according to hearing testimony Tuesday, the AP reported.

Defense attorney Richard L. Scheff said that Helixon left the case because he felt "ethically bound" after failing to convince his superiors to drop the charges against Sinclair, according to the Los Angeles Times. 

"Helixon repeatedly stated that the case against BG Sinclair should not be prosecuted, but that the Army was forcing the case to move forward," Scheff wrote in the case for dismissal. Helixon is now on Sinclair's witness list.

Lt. Col. Robert Stelle, Helixon's replacement, wrote in a document to the court that Scheff's characterization of Helixon's departure from the case was inaccurate.

"At no time did LTC Helixon state that the accused is not guilty of the charged offenses," Stelle wrote, continuing that Helixon "did not have legal, ethical issues with the case going forward."

Despite Helixon's breakdown and the different accounts of why he is no longer working on the case, a judge determined this week that the trial will carry on.

After the ruling, Scheff claimed that the Army intended to ruin Helixon's career to get his client.

"The government undertook a vicious character assault against someone they previously called their 'rock star' sex crimes prosecutor, because he was the only Army leader with the integrity to stand up to politics," Scheff told the AP.

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