- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Jurors are set to be selected Wednesday for the much-watched trial of Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair on sexual assault charges against an Army underling.

The lead-up to the trial has been marked by drama — and the actual court case is likely to bring even more.

Prosecutor Lt. Col. William Hellxon, who worked the case for almost two years —and who recently recommended that the most serious charges against the general be dropped due to questions about the accuser’s credibility — was replaced last month, The Associated Press reported.

He broke down in tears about the case and was taken to a military medical facility for a mental evaluation.

Meanwhile, Gen. Sinclair’s defense protested the fact that the case was still going forward — despite the accuser’s conflicting statements in previous interviews —and suggested military chiefs were catering to politics rather than the facts of the case, AP reported.

But a judge on Tuesday ruled that the case will head to trial — and that in itself is historic.

Gen. Sinclair is believed to be the most senior ranking member of the U.S. military to face sexual assault charges in court, AP reported.

And military justice demands he be tried by a panel of jurors who hold a higher rank than he does — all generals.

He’s pleaded not guilty to eight criminal counts related to forcible sodomy, indecent acts, violating orders and conduct unbecoming.

He’s a married father of two, a former deputy commander of the 82nd Airborne —and could get life in prison if convicted.

His attorneys say he carried on a consensual affair with a female captain under his command while tasked to Iraq and Afghanistan.

That line of defense still pretty much guarantees an end to his career.

The jury will be seated at Fort Bragg, with opening statements set for Thursday.