The Navy’s top lawyer stands accused of unlawfully meddling in criminal cases targeting America’s elite commandos, and that includes being grilled by attorneys seeking to overturn the rape conviction of a Coronado-based Navy SEAL who had been deemed not guilty by his admiral and other officers.

Legal experts consulted by The San Diego Union-Tribune agreed that the allegations swirling around Vice Adm. James Crawford III, the Navy’s judge advocate general, are highly irregular. As prime evidence, they pointed to his being deposed this week in Washington, D.C., in the SEAL rape case. Crawford was unable to recall key details about the case, which he’s accused of illegally influencing, according to one of the lawyers who questioned him.

Crawford has repeatedly declined to comment for stories regarding the case after a military appellate court began investigating the claims of his intervention.

That case involves an ongoing appellate hearing for Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Keith Barry, who was court-martialed and convicted of rape in San Diego in 2015. He received a sentence of three years in prison and a dishonorable discharge. He has completed his prison term and left the Navy SEALs, but is appealing his conviction in hopes of restoring his reputation.

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