FORT BRAGG, North Carolina (Reuters) - An Army general used his superior rank to force five women into improper sexual relations, military prosecutors said on Monday at a hearing to determine if he should face a court-martial.
Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair, who is based at Fort Bragg, is accused of 26 violations of military law. They include forcible sodomy, wrongful sexual conduct, possessing pornography while deployed and conduct unbecoming of an officer.
The charges stem from inappropriate behavior toward four female subordinates and one civilian over the last five years, Army prosecutors said, revealing new details about the charges announced against Sinclair in September.
Sinclair also is accused of claiming more than $4,000 worth of charges for personal travel as military business, and of deleting emails during the investigation, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said Sinclair used his rank to force the women into sexual relations. Sinclair threatened to kill one subordinate, or her family, if she told anyone, prosecutors said.
He also is accused of asking women to send him nude photos and berating female subordinates on several occasions.
When asked by hearing officer Major General Perry Wiggins if he would make a statement regarding the charges, Sinclair said “No, sir.” His defense team declined comment to reporters.
Sinclair’s lawyers asked that the case be dismissed or that the government prosecutors be removed due to alleged misconduct.
Prosecutors had reviewed thousands of confidential emails between Sinclair, his attorneys and his wife, said Sinclair’s defense attorney, Lieutenant Colonel Jackie Thompson.
Wiggins postponed the proceedings while the emails were reviewed by a legal adviser. He said court would reconvene on Monday afternoon.
Wiggins will determine if Sinclair should stand trial on any of the charges.
Sinclair is a 27-year Army veteran who U.S. officials said was sent home in May from Afghanistan, where he served as a deputy commander for support, after the investigation.
Prosecutors said Sinclair had maintained one affair from 2007 to 2012, as well as other liaisons and attempts at relationships. The alleged sexual contact took place in Afghanistan, Iraq and Germany, and at military bases in the United States.
Dozens of witnesses are expected to give testimony at the hearing over several days.
Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Doina Chiacu