Political News

Bragg general pleads guilty to affair, improper relationships

Posted March 6

— A U.S. Army general accused of sexually assaulting a junior officer pleaded guilty Thursday to three lesser charges but maintains his innocence on allegations that he forced her to perform oral sex.

Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, a former deputy commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, had previously entered pleas of not guilty to all eight charges. He still faces a court-martial, set to begin Friday at Fort Bragg, on three counts after prosecutors dropped two others Thursday.

Sinclair pleaded guilty to committing adultery, which is a crime in the military, as well as to violating orders by possessing pornography in Afghanistan and to conduct unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman regarding having inappropriate relationships with three other women under his command.

Col. James Pohl will sentence him on those charges at the conclusion of his court-martial. He faces up to 15 years in prison total on the three charges.

"Gen. Sinclair has always acknowledged the mistakes he’s made. He’s wanted to plead guilty to these charges since Day One. In the civilian world, what he’s pleading to are not even crimes,” defense attorney Richard Scheff said.

Scheff called the plea a strategic move to increase the likelihood that Sinclair would be found not guilty at trial.

"The remainder of the case is remarkably weak. He’ll get acquitted, and we’ll walk out,” the lawyer said.

The primary accuser in the case is a female captain who claims Sinclair twice ended arguments about their relationship by unzipping his pants and forcing her head into his lap.

The woman says Sinclair threatened to kill her family if she told anyone about their three-year affair, which continued after the alleged assaults.

Sinclair faces life in prison if convicted of the sexual assault charges.

He spent part of Thursday recounting in graphic detail their relationship, which started in 2009 while they were stationed in Iraq.

By admitting guilt on the three charges for which there is the strongest evidence, the married father of two narrows the focus of the upcoming trial to charges that rely heavily on the testimony and credibility of his former mistress.

"They have the testimony of one person who has been utterly discredited at every turn, given inconsistent statements, who’s lied on the stand," Scheff said. "That is not someone who you can rely on for proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and it is not something this panel should rely on.”

The defense will present evidence at trial that the accuser lied under oath during a pretrial hearing in January about her handling of old iPhone containing messages between her and Sinclair. Lawyers for Sinclair have painted the woman as a scorned lover who only reported the sexual assault allegations after the general refused to leave his wife.

The captain testified that, on Dec. 9, shortly after what she described as a contentious meeting with prosecutors, she rediscovered the old iPhone stored in a box at her home that still contained saved text messages and voicemails from the general. After charging the phone, she testified she synced it with her computer to save photos before contacting her attorney.

However, a forensic expert hired by the defense examined the phone and determined that the accuser powered up the device more than two weeks before the meeting with prosecutors. She also tried to make a call and performed a number of other operations, the expert said.

During a pretrial hearing this week, a top Pentagon lawyer testified that the lead prosecutor assigned to the case for nearly two years, Lt. Col. William Helixon, had urged that the most serious charges against Sinclair be dropped after he became convinced the captain had lied to him about the cell phone. Helixon was overruled by his superiors and then removed from the case last month, after suffering what was described as a profound moral crisis that led to his being taken to a military hospital for a mental health evaluation.

The case against Sinclair, believed to be the most senior member of the U.S. military ever to face trial on sexual assault charges, comes as the Pentagon grapples with a troubling string of revelations involving rape and sexual misconduct within the ranks. Influential members of Congress are also pushing to remove decisions about the prosecution of sex crimes from the military chain of command.

Sinclair's defense team failed this week to convince Pohl that military leaders were pushing the general's prosecution to make a public example of him and that the charges should therefore be dismissed.

"I’m not an expert on Congress and the congressional process, but I do agree that Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s bill is appropriate," Scheff said. "I think the process, that a change is necessary.”

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  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Mar 6, 7:23 p.m.

    And another thing, him getting off easy will send a message to others behaving like scoundrels in uniform like him that they can "use" subordinates illegally, wrongly and disrespectfully, and get off lightly too, and that would set a very dangerous message to military members across the board IMO.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Mar 6, 7:20 p.m.

    "Sinclair pleaded guilty to committing adultery, which is a crime in the military, as well as to violating orders by possessing pornography in Afghanistan and to conduct unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman regarding having inappropriate relationships with three other women under his command."

    "They have the testimony of one person who has been utterly discredited at every turn, given inconsistent statements, who’s lied on the stand," Scheff said. "That is not someone who you can rely on for proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and it is not something this panel should rely on.”

    There were at least three, not just one. Someone needs to teach his attorney how to count.

    And I'll bet almost anything that there were more than that but the women are too afraid or ashamed to come forward.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Mar 6, 7:11 p.m.

    While it might be illegal in the military, I don't agree that it should be or that he should be... View More

    — Posted by dwr1964

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    Think so???

    Even in the civilian business world, management having a close relationship with a subordinate is considered bad business that could equal firing for one or both because it can put management in the position of being unable to manage that employee properly, and can lead to employment impropriety lawsuits which wise companies don't want to see in headlines or courts.

    In the military, there can be far more at risk, including jeopardizing the lives of others, sometimes even millions of others, with military/government secrets sometimes being put at risk. So him facing charges for doing what he well knew was illegal is just and right, and is exactly what should be happening.

  • dwr1964 Mar 6, 6:06 p.m.

    While it might be illegal in the military, I don't agree that it should be or that he should be punished for his sexual activity. Seriously, it's none of our business and the only person this should matter to is his wife.....paulej

    So you think that having sex with your wife or husband is perfectly fine? That is a hard pill to swallow. In fact, you would be the first person I have ever had contact with, who believed it was cool for your spouse to have sexual relations with anyone else. If this is the thought pattern of our young adults today, just what will tomorrow bring?

  • Hill55 Mar 6, 5:51 p.m.

    Doing what he did is not crime in the civilian world and the White House (just ask Bill Clinton)

  • paulej Mar 6, 5:07 p.m.

    Sinclair pleaded guilty to committing adultery, which is a crime in the military, as well as to... View More

    — Posted by tiblet

    While it might be illegal in the military, I don't agree that it should be or that he should be punished for his sexual activity. Seriously, it's none of our business and the only person this should matter to is his wife.

  • Obamacare rises again Mar 6, 4:46 p.m.

    I personally don't care what the President does behind closed doors on his personal time. What I do care about is economic stability and job growth, something Clinton gave us in the 90's until Bush came in and undermined most everything Clinton accomplished.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Mar 6, 3:17 p.m.

    She's still lying about not knowing about Bill's affairs.

    She knows all. I will not be voting on... View More

    — Posted by 678devilish

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    I agree - 100%.

    When he was first nominated, there were rumors of his affairs while governor of Arkansas which both he and Hillary denied.

    They BOTH lied to the citizens of the State of Arkansas and to the citizens of the United States, and why anyone would ever trust someone who lied to them even ONCE let alone numerous times, I'll never understand.

    Personally, I wouldn't trust either of the Clintons any farther than I could throw them, and I certainly wouldn't waste a vote on any of them, even if one of them was running for dog catcher cause I wouldn't even trust them with the life and well-being of a dog, let alone the lives and well-beings of millions of citizens.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Mar 6, 3:13 p.m.

    What is that maxim about fury and a woman scorned again?

    — Posted by ifcdirector

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    This isn't about women scorned.

    This is about a man who failed miserably in obeying a code of conduct he swore to obey, all while holding others to obey those same codes of conduct.

    He had no business ever becoming an officer because I assure you, this went on for quite some time, and others who regularly promoted him knew it was happening.

    So it's like various churches who knew certain church leaders were molesting children, and yet did nothing about it.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Mar 6, 3:10 p.m.

    She's still lying about not knowing about Bill's affairs.

    She knows all. I will not be voting on... View More

    — Posted by 678devilish

    Yeah, you're right. Who cares if the Clintons restore the country to where it was during the... View More

    — Posted by Obamacare rises again

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    That was a shameful time in American history, and I for one would never like to see that time come again.

    Regardless of the few good things accomplished during his administration, there were many many more negative ones, beginning with his non-action when the Cole and the Marine Barracks in Beirut were attacked which should be disgusting to any military member or Veteran, or to any US civilian who ever supported a military member or Veteran.

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