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General facing sexual assault allegations awaits trial

Legal proceedings have begun in one of the highest-profile sex crimes cases ever to have struck the military. A 51-year-old general in the U.S. Army is facing serious sexual assault allegations, making him the highest-ranked Army officer to ever have been charged with such a crime. The man, who had been a paratrooper in the early days of his career, is now up against eight criminal charges, including indecent acts, violating orders, forcible sodomy and conduct unbecoming of an officer. He could face life in prison if convicted on the counts. The man has pleaded not guilty to the allegations. He had been a distinguished military officer, overseeing tens of thousands of troops in Afghanistan before he was abruptly shipped home and charged with criminal offenses.

The man vehemently denies the most incendiary allegations - he is accused of physically forcing a woman to perform oral sex. Still, he has admitted that he and the female captain did have an ongoing relationship; they reportedly had a three-year extramarital affair together. Adultery is seen as a crime in military court, so the man's professional career is almost entirely certain to end after this, his 28th year in the service.

In addition to that primary complaint, the man is accused of soliciting nude pictures from other female officers. Prosecutors are characterizing the man as a predatory supervisor who abused his position to harass and assault his subordinates. Defense attorneys, however, say that the man is the victim in this case - he has been unfairly targeted by political leaders and prosecutors who are attempting to make an example of his case.

It is possible that media hype surrounding recent sexual assault news in the military could be to blame for the focus on this North Carolina trial. New information shows that only about one in eight sexual assaults are even reported in the armed services.

Even though the military may have additional rules that prevent adultery and other inappropriate conduct, allegations of sexual assault occur everywhere. In such cases, criminal defendants can benefit from the assistance of a qualified defense attorney, who can help them learn more about the nature of the case and their legal options. An arrest and arraignment for a sex crime does not mean that the defendant is automatically considered guilty.

Source: National Public Radio, "Rapid Fall For Army General Accused Of Sex Crimes" No author given, Jan. 04, 2014

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