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Bragg general to be sentenced Thursday in sex case

Posted March 19

— A Fort Bragg general apologized in court Wednesday for his inappropriate relationships with women under his command and asked for a lenient sentence. He's expected to learn his fate Thursday morning.

Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, a former deputy commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, became emotional as he read a statement in his sentencing hearing, which he noted was exactly two years after a female captain first accused him of forcing her to perform oral sex on him.

As part of a plea deal reached with the government, the sexual assault charges were dropped against Sinclair. He pleaded guilty to mistreating her and to having improper relationships with two other women, as well as to adultery, which is a crime in the military, misusing his government-issued credit card and other conduct unbecoming an officer.

"I have squandered a fortune of life’s blessings, blessings of family, work and friendship," Sinclair said. "I don’t have to look any further than the mirror for
someone to blame. I put myself and the Army in this position with my selfish, self-destructive and hurtful acts."

He asked Col. James Pohl, the military judge overseeing the case, to allow him to retire at a reduced rank, so as not to punish his family by depriving him of the pension benefits he accrued during his 27-year career.

Prosecutor Maj. Rebecca DiMuro called for Sinclair, 51, to be dismissed from the Army, saying he abused his rank by engaging in a three-year affair and promising to help the careers of female officers who sent him nude photos of themselves.

"His actions not only hurt him, it hurts all officers in command," DiMuro said in her closing argument.

Sinclair's defense team paraded witnesses into the Fort Bragg courtroom Tuesday and Wednesday who called the general an inspirational leader, and his attorneys asked Pohl to consider Sinclair’s honorable actions during the majority of his Army career and that his wife and two sons have already endured punishment that will last a lifetime.

Much of the defense testimony during the three-day hearing could be banned from future military trials under legislation being considered in Congress. To better protect alleged victims within the ranks, the U.S. Senate unanimously approved legislation last week to ban the "good-soldier defense" in order to ensure that a defendant's fate is determined solely by evidence.

"For Gen. Sinclair to have to serve a day in jail would be a travesty," lead defense attorney Richard Scheff said outside the courtroom. "It would be outrageous. He ought to walk out of this courtroom. He ought to be permitted to retire. He ought to be with his family and deal with the reputational harm that has been unfairly and inappropriately caused to him and his family for the rest of his life.”

The defense has characterized the female captain as a liar who concocted the sex assault allegations only after she found intimate emails to Sinclair from another woman.

Questions about whether she perjured herself during a pre-trial hearing damaged the Army's case against Sinclair. The case was further thrown into jeopardy last week when Pohl said the military may have improperly pressed ahead with the trial to send a message about its determination to curb sexual misconduct in the ranks. Under the military code of justice, the decision was supposed to be decided solely on the evidence, not its broader political implications.

Along with the plea deal, Sinclair reached a sealed sentencing agreement with Fort Bragg commanders. Once Pohl hands down his sentence, the agreement will be announced, and the general will receive the lesser of the two punishments. The maximum penalty on the charges he pleaded guilty to is 21½ years in prison and dismissal from the Army.

17 Comments

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  • lusciouspeach45 Mar 20, 11:50 a.m.

    If this was a man of color that did this, he would have thrown in jail for the maximum sentence. What about the young women that this man intimidated? Where is their justice? The verdict that was issued is not right. I am sure he served his country proud, but he should serve some jail time and he shouldn't be able to receive benefits. He wasn't thinking about his family when he committed this crime.

  • UNJUSTIFIED Mar 20, 10:43 a.m.

    Not being Dishonorably Discharged is a slap in the face to the Enlisted men and women that have been sentenced and discharged for the same acts......

  • CTRROCKS! Mar 20, 10:24 a.m.

    I agree he should face justice, but I believe allowing the benefits to be paid to his family is fair. If he is sentenced to 21.5yrs in prison, he's not going to be using that $8k/month; his family is and they deserve it after what he has put them through.

  • Obamacare rises again Mar 20, 10:19 a.m.

    Yes, the general has served for 27 years in the military and apparently proved himself to be... View More

    — Posted by brezinmjkm

    So this man was commanding troops while watching porn inside a tent during an active war? How wonderful.

  • nything25 Mar 20, 9:13 a.m.

    It is sad that legitimate charges against this man have been dropped because of technicalities and suspicion of perjury. So they drop the "sexual assault" charge and he pleads guilty to "mistreating her"? What kind of military double-talk is that? In the end, if he was a civilian this man would already be in jail and there would be no chance of him receiving a pension from his job. I can agree that it will be brutal for his family to be punished for his indiscretions but that's life. I'm not saying make an example of the guy, but don't give him any more favors than they already have.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Mar 19, 6:08 p.m.

    "Sinclair went on to apologize to his family, the main accuser, his "magnificent Army," and other women with whom he admitted to having inappropriate relationships."

    Yep, I've always said there were more.
    The ones I feel most sorry for are his children. They didn't deserve the shame he's brought on their name and family.

  • heelzfan4 Mar 19, 6:00 p.m.

    I'm certain this man did some real good while in service - otherwise, he would have not been promoted to current rank. However, that does not excuse his behavior. His lawyer said he should be released from these ludicrous charges...hmmmmm. He has already had many charges dropped, and when the judge reads his sentence, then the judge will open the plea deal, and this man will get the LESSER of the penalties. Which in English means.... he'll walk free, receive a huge pension that we pay for, and carry on with his life. I'm still puzzled why the gov't dropped the sexual abuse charges! Just add the Army to the list of Crooked politics! Sick of this mess! Any normal "joe" would have had to register as a sex offender, and would serve time!

  • brezinmjkm Mar 19, 4:47 p.m.

    Yes, the general has served for 27 years in the military and apparently proved himself to be worthy of promotion to a very high position. However, he also knew from day 1 that having a relationship with someone in his command AND disobeying orders (having porn in Afganistan) were serious offenses that would lead to dismissal or worse. Wuth all due respect to his time in service, he knew better and I would bet he would not be so generous to someone else if someone else were in his shoes right now. Shame on you, General Sinclair! You have shamed the officer ranks whil.e serving your country

  • LetsBeFair Mar 19, 4:30 p.m.

    A general will get kicked out of the Army for adultery after being a war hero to a life of shame ... meanwhile President Clinton, the General's boss at one time, gets a lifetime pension and fame for the same thing.

  • colinmb123us Mar 19, 3:44 p.m.

    Admit you like the same sex will get you dismissal though.

    — Posted by Minarchist

    Adultry and sodomy are both covered under the UCMJ. Admitting you like the same sex won't get you discharge (DADT was repealed in 2010, upheld in court, and fully complied with by the military in 2011, guess you don't keep up with current events).

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