A military appeals court won't stop the court-martial of a U.S. Army general facing trial on sexual assault charges.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces has denied a petition filed by lawyers for Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair. The August filing sought to halt the case based on their claim that top Pentagon officials exerted improper pressure to criminally prosecute him.

Sinclair has pleaded not guilty to a raft of charges that include forcible sodomy, indecent acts, violating orders and adultery. Most of the charges stem from a three-year affair with a female captain who says the married general twice forced her to perform oral sex while she served under his command in Iraq and Afghanistan.

After several delays, Sinclair's trial is now set to begin Jan. 7.