Army sex trial begins with jury of generals seated

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) — A jury of five two-star generals was seated today for the court-martial of an Army general believed to be the highest ranking officer to face sexual-assault charges.

But the closely watched trial will unfold with lingering questions about the accuser's credibility and without the prosecutor who led the case for nearly two years.

The prosecutor, 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 and he believes she lied under oath about crucial evidence in the case.

But those above the seasoned sex crimes prosecutor overrode him, rebuffing an offer from Sinclair to plead guilty to lesser charges.

It is extremely rare for such a high-ranking military officer to face a jury. Under the military justice system, members of the panel must be senior in rank to the accused — dictating Sinclair's jury of major generals.

Opening statements in the case are set for Thursday.

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