On Monday, a judge halted Brigadier General Jeffrey A. Sinclair's sexual assault trial after reviewing new evidence suggesting the case has been tainted by political pressure from the Pentagon. Colonel James L. Pohl dismissed the jury and is now allowing both sides to attempt to reach a plea deal. Sinclair stands accused of sexually assaulting a female captain. If convicted, he could spend his life in military prison. The defense maintains he will not plead guilty to sexual assault.
Men's rights activists (MRAs) have taken up the case as an example of how "public outcry" over rape results in false accusations. The military charged Sinclair amidst congressional debate about whether sexual assault cases should be taken outside the chain of command (they won't be, Congress recently voted). The military wanted to look tough on sexual assault, MRAs reason, so officials took an innocent man and put him on the stand. The Community of the Wrongly Accused blog (which used to be called False Rape Society), explains:
Public outcries can skew the decision-making processes of prosecutors, college administrators, and military leaders and sometimes prompt them to bring charges, to proceed with cases, or to take other actions that enhance the likelihood of punishing the innocent.
To MRAs and those sympathetic to Sinclair, Pohl's decision proves that point. Pohl ruled that "unlawful command influence" was at play after an email surfaced in which the accuser's lawyer wrote that a plea deal would not look good for the Army.