The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

January 13, 2014

General's sexual misconduct trial has a charged backdrop

FORT BRAGG, N.C. — He called her “my panda” and “my baby.” She called him “papa panda sexy pants.”

They had a three-year affair in Afghanistan, Iraq, Germany and the United States, but they were hardly equals. She was a junior officer assigned to his staff. He was a one-star general.

Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair now stands accused of sexually assaulting the woman, a captain, who says he forced her to engage in oral sex after she tried to break off their affair.

The general is also charged with threatening to kill the captain and her family, sexually harassing other female officers, abusing his government credit card, and possessing alcohol and pornography in a war zone.

The lurid details have spilled out in court hearings at a time when the military is under intense pressure to curb rampant sexual abuse in the ranks. Last month Congress passed, and the president signed, legislation to bolster prosecution of sexual assault in the military.

The Sinclair case has focused attention on the military’s attempts to punish sexual misconduct. It is also a test of claims by many military defense lawyers that high-ranking commanders get a pass for offenses that result in serious charges against lower-ranking service members.

Sinclair’s attorneys say pledges by President Barack Obama and senior Pentagon officials to crack down on sexual misconduct have made it impossible for the 27-year Army veteran to get a fair trial. One defense brief cites a comment from the president:

“If we find out somebody is engaging in this stuff, they’ve got to be held accountable — prosecuted, stripped of their position, court-martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged. Period.”

Such statements compelled the military to charge Sinclair and could prejudice prospective military jurors, the defense has alleged.

Women’s groups have demanded an overhaul of the current military justice system in which top commanders, invariably male, wield considerable influence over whether and how to bring charges.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State, national news
  • Charges expected in killing of policeman Prosecutors planning to file charges against suspect Brian George Fitch

    August 1, 2014

  • Midwest economic index slumped in July Mid-America Business Conditions Index dropped more than 3½ percentage points

    August 1, 2014

  • Minnesota gay marriage law reaches anniversary ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — It's been a year since Minnesota's gay and lesbian couples got the right to legally marry. The anniversary of the state allowing same-sex marriage arrived Friday. It was a quieter scene than last year when couples lined up to

    August 1, 2014

  • 35 killed, soldier missing as Gaza truce unravels GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — A Gaza cease-fire quickly unraveled Friday as violence erupted in and around the southern town of Rafah, with 35 Palestinians killed by Israeli shelling and the military saying one of its soldiers may have been abducted.

    August 1, 2014

  • Minimum wage increases to $8 an hour in Minnesota ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minimum-wage earners in Minnesota get a pay raise to $8 an hour. For Minnesota's lowest-paid workers, the most welcome move the Legislature made this year was increasing the minimum wage for the first time in nearly a decade.

    August 1, 2014

  • Congress racing to finish Congress races to finish veterans, highway bills

    July 31, 2014

  • Target New CEO [Duplicate] Target names Pepsi's Cornell as chairman, CEO MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Target has hired Pepsi executive Brian Cornell as its new chairman and CEO as it looks to recover from a huge data breach and troubles in Canada. Cornell replaces interim CEO John Mulligan, who is chief financial officer for the M

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brain wave monitoring is better gauge than using a focus group, study says To predict a large population’s likely response to something — a product, politician or policy — political consultants, marketing gurus and advertising execs have long favored the focus group. Ask a small segment of the target audience what it thinks

    July 31, 2014

  • Argentina slides into default as debt talks fail NEW YORK (AP) — The collapse of talks with U.S. creditors sent Argentina into its second debt default in 13 years and raised questions about what comes next for financial markets and the South American nation's staggering economy. A midnight Wednesd

    July 31, 2014

  • Exchange Bee Researcher [Duplicate] Bee researcher takes aim at central Minnesota park WAITE PARK — Crystal Boyd strained four bees, three flies and one leafhopper from a yellow pan trap, the third of 12 in a transect topping a granite outcrop in Quarry Park Scientific and Natural Area.She popped everything into a labeled, zip-top plas

    July 31, 2014 4 Photos