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General's defense team works to discredit accuser

Associated Press Modified: November 8, 2012 at 6:01 pm •  Published: November 8, 2012
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Ramsey, the defense layer, suggested in her closing argument that the general was guilty only of adultery and fraternization, punishable by a written reprimand. She said Sinclair had passed a polygraph test during which he denied ever forcing the captain to have oral sex with him.

She said Sinclair had suffered for months through the unjust public humiliation of his family by media reports and that allowing the charges to go forward would cause "actual sexual assault victims to suffer."

Without any witnesses to the alleged assault or physical evidence, it has been the primary mission of the three military lawyers assigned to defend Sinclair to destroy the female captain's credibility. They characterized her as a "crazy" and manipulative "back-stabber" who blamed others for her mistakes.

"She wanted to take everything from him — his wife, his family, his career," Ramsey said. "She is adding lies in a desperate attempt to get someone to believe that Gen. Sinclair forced her to be with him."

As the hearing entered its fourth day Thursday, the defense called to the witness stand Chief Warrant Officer Jose Serbia. He was a coworker and workout buddy of the female captain's. He said she first tearfully confided in about the affair on March 19, the day she found messages from another woman in the general's military e-mail account, which she checked as part of her job.

Serbia testified the woman told him how Sinclair had threatened to kill her. But when Serbia asked the captain if Sinclair had raped her, he said she replied that he had not. It wasn't until she later made a formal complaint that she alleged Sinclair forced her to perform oral sex.

After making her report to Sinclair's superior, the woman's security clearance was suspended and she was relieved of her duties. She was also referred for a mental health assessment.

The defense also added to a series of male officers who praised Sinclair while describing the female captain as a liar and loose cannon.

Capt. Joseph D'Elia, who served as Sinclair's executive officer in Afghanistan, described the accuser as "volatile" and her moods as erratic. However, he later agreed with lead prosecutor Helixon that the secret affair with the general might explain her emotional swings.

First Lt. Michael Piccini, an aide to Sinclair, described the accuser as "not truthful" while characterizing Sinclair a "great leader" and mentor whom he had never seen act inappropriately.

Helixon pounced, asking the young lieutenant if a "great leader" carried on a 3-year extramarital affair with a direct subordinate or asked other female officers to provide him with nude photos of themselves.

"No," Piccini agreed.

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Follow AP writer Michael Biesecker at twitter.com/mbiesecker