Army Sex Trial Opens

The Army's former top enlisted man was "a real Jekyll and Hyde" who presented a public face of a successful career soldier, but in private could be a crude sexual bully, a military prosecutor said in opening statements to jurors today.

Sgt. Maj. Gene McKinney gazed without expression as a prosecutor took more than an hour to lay out the allegations of six women who claim McKinney tried to force himself on them.

McKinney exposed himself to one woman, and pressured others for sex, even using the death of his only child as emotional leverage, prosecutor Capt. Brian Dolan said at McKinney's court-martial.

McKinney, 47, faces up to 55 and 1/2 years in a military prison if convicted. His court-martial is expected to last a month or more at this Army base 20 miles south of Washington.

"Sgt. Maj. McKinney was a leader who abused his power," Dolan argued to the jury of four officers and four enlisted men.

The six women "saw the side of the sergeant major that everyone else saw, but they also saw a side most people don't see ... a real Jekyll and Hyde," Dolan said.

McKinney's attorneys were scheduled to make an opening statement later today. He has pleaded innocent, and his lawyers have questioned the credibility and motive of the accusers.

Dolan said McKinney made raw and sexually graphic remarks, once placed a woman's hand on his crotch when he was aroused, and frequently grabbed other women and tried to force kisses on them.

Dolan walked the jurors chronologically through a pattern of alleged abuse dating to 1994 and continuing until 1997, when the first of McKinney's accusers stepped forward.

McKinney became the sergeant major of the Army in 1995, and used the position to offer some of his accusers perks and as subtle pressure for sex, Dolan said.

In one case, McKinney cornered a young sergeant in his private office at the Pentagon, telling her he had the power to help her career, Dolan said.

McKinney grabbed the woman, ground his pelvis into her and told her "you're what I need right now," Dolan said. McKinney also told her she had aroused him and she could not leave him in that state, the prosecutor said.

Both sides plan to call about 50 witnesses each. One of McKinney's lawyers told jurors that both McKinney and his wife may testify.

Before the trial began, McKinney said he was singled out for prosecution because he is a black enlisted man. His lawyers failed to get the case thrown out based on Army documents showing several officers, most of them white, received little or no military discipline when accused of crimes ranging from adultery to assault.

A white colonel will be the military equivalent of jury foreman. The other officers on the jury, or panel as it is known in military court, are a black major, a white woman major, and a white woman lieutenant colonel.

All the enlisted men are white. All are senior sergeats major, as is McKinney. The only black enlisted man in the jury pool was bounced at prosecutors' request, because he is a friend of McKinney's.

McKinney was the first black to serve as sergeant major of the Army. The specially-appointed post serves as an advocate at the Pentagon for the enlisted ranks. He was ousted from the job last year but remains in uniform.

By Anne Gearan. ©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed
  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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