Army busts Sinclair down two ranks after sex misconduct case
Posted June 20
Fort Bragg, N.C. — Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, who was cleared of sexually assaulting a junior officer, was demoted to lieutenant colonel before he was allowed to retire, the Army said Friday.
Secretary of the Army John McHugh said Sinclair retired at the rank of lieutenant colonel. Officials said it was the first time the Army has reduced a retiring general officer by two ranks in a decade.
“While retirement benefits are mandated by federal law, there is a requirement that an individual must have served satisfactorily in rank before receiving those benefits,” McHugh said in a statement. “Sinclair displayed a pattern of inappropriate, and at times illegal, behavior both while serving as a brigadier general and a colonel. I therefore decided there was sufficient evidence and cause to deny him those benefits.”
Sinclair, 51, had been accused of twice forcing a captain under his command to perform oral sex, but the Army's case against him fell apart over questions about her credibility and whether military officials improperly pursued the court-martial to send a message about cracking down on sexual misconduct in the ranks.
He ended his court-martial in March by pleading guilty to mistreating the captain during a three-year affair and having improper relationships with two other women. He also pleaded guilty to adultery, which is a crime in the military, as well as misuse of the government credit card and other conduct unbecoming an officer.
The military judge in the case reprimanded Sinclair and ordered him to forfeit $20,000 in pay.
McHugh said that he was prevented by federal law from taking further action and did what was “legally sustainable.”
“During Capitol Hill hearings, I was asked whether Sinclair would receive a pension after proceedings were complete,” he said. “Under federal law, if a person has earned a pension because of their years of service, they are entitled to those benefits; Congress might consider a change in the law that would allow greater flexibility and accountability.”