FORT BRAGG, N.C.
Less than a month before an Army general’s trial on sexual-assault charges was set to begin, the lead prosecutor broke down in tears as he told a superior he believed the primary accuser in the case had lied under oath.
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.
But those above the seasoned sex-crimes prosecutor overrode him, rebuffing an offer from Sinclair to plead guilty to lesser charges.
Helixon was then pulled from the case, after a superior officer took him to a military hospital for a mental- health evaluation, according to testimony.
With the trial set to begin this week, Sinclair’s defense lawyers suggested in court Tuesday that top Pentagon officials had unlawfully ordered the case to go forward over concern for the political fallout that would result if the charges were dropped.
After a daylong hearing, a judge ruled Tuesday that the case should go to trial. Opening statements are set for Thursday.