Political News

Bragg general to serve no jail time in sex case

Posted March 20, 2014

— A Fort Bragg general will serve no jail time for breaking military law during improper relationships with three subordinates and other offenses.

Military Judge Col. James Pohl reprimanded Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair and ordered him to forfeit $20,000 in pay. He also ordered Sinclair to reimburse the Army $4,157 for charges he racked up on a government credit card on trips to visit his mistress.

"The system worked. I've always been very proud of my Army," Sinclair, a former deputy commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, said in a brief statement after his sentencing. "All I want to do now is go up north, hug my kids and see my wife."

The 51-year-old general admitted that he mistreated a female captain under his command during a three-year affair and had 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.

He had been accused of twice forcing the captain to perform oral sex, but the sexual assault charges were dropped as part of his plea deal.

Sinclair was emotional Wednesday as he apologized for his actions, and he wept when his attorneys read a letter from his wife detailing the impact the criminal case has had on his family and asking Pohl for "a fair sentence."

Under an agreement Sinclair reached with Fort Bragg authorities, he was prepared to retire from the Army and serve up to 18 months in military prison in addition to paying back the charges on the government credit card.

That agreement, called a quantum, was sealed until after Pohl passed sentence based on evidence from a three-day hearing. Under military law, Sinclair was then given the lesser of the two punishments.

Prosecutors on Wednesday asked Pohl to dismiss Sinclair from the Army, which likely would have wiped out his Veterans Administration health care and military retirement benefits. They said he abused his rank by engaging in the affair and promising to help the careers of female officers who sent him nude photos of themselves.

Sinclair's defense argued that depriving his family of the benefits he had accrued during his 27-year Army career would have unfairly punished his wife and two sons. They also maintained that the allegations never amounted to a criminal case.

"In a civilian court, we wouldn't be here at all. This would not be a criminal matter, given the conduct," lead defense attorney Richard Scheff said.

Scheff said it's up to Pentagon officials whether Sinclair also is demoted in rank, but he said that the general plans to retire from the Army.

"He's got new mountains to climb," he said.

The defense painted the 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.

The military and Congress are grappling with how to handle sexual misconduct, but Scheff said the plea agreement and sentence in Sinclair's case are unrelated to the problem.

"What you had here was a very, very isolated instance, a mistake made by an honorable man," he said. "This was not the right case to be brought (to trial). We didn't have victims in this case. The only victim in this case is Gen. Sinclair and his family."

The military needs to look at how sex assault allegations are handled, he said, adding that he supports a proposal by U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York to remove prosecution of such cases from the military chain of command and allow lawyers to handle them.

"Politics has no place in this process," Scheff said.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • dianejames22454 Mar 24, 2014

    He should at least be demoted.... doesn't deserve recognition as a military role model all those medals and pins he wears are suppose to represent. Shame, shame, shame on him. I feel sorry for his wife and family, but losing "his benefits" is not a reason for not punishing him at a greater level for his conduct unbecoming of an officer. This is a poor example of how commanders should be help accountable for their actions with the rank and file under their command, watch, and care.

  • Jump1 Mar 21, 2014

    If this would have been an enlisted person the court would have sent him to jail and lost everything. He will retire with full benefits and find a job with a news agency giving his side of the war.

  • 678devilish Mar 21, 2014

    Fort Bragg is not standing so tall today. IS IT!

  • 678devilish Mar 21, 2014

    He admitted to his crime, and still the judge and jury allow this man to walk free. Military courts needs to get their law right. In this case it was dead wrong to allow this man to go free. What about the victims and all he done to them?

  • 678devilish Mar 21, 2014

    He should have served some time in prison. But his day will come. The victim should take him to civil court. He should have been discharged unhonorably and stripped of his ranks etc. He is an embrassement to all service men and women.

  • tjszx2 Mar 21, 2014

    This person is an absolute dicgrace to the United States Military. If he would have be an enlisted member he would have gotten a reduction in rank, forfieture of all pay and at least 25 years just like the young airmen that I knew over 30 years ago that supposedly raped his girl friend. 10 years later she stepped forward and said it wasn't true, she was just mad because he broke it off with her. Enlisted people have to abide by a different set of rules from the officer structure.

  • ABrianJ Mar 21, 2014

    Women attempting to sleep their way to the top is old news. Why aren't we making laws to protect men from female blackmale in the workplace ?

  • N Diana Bobbitt Mar 20, 2014
    user avatar

    A mistake happens when someone does something without meaning to...this was not a "mistake". One occurrence could be classified as a mistake, but not the actions of this adulterer. This is not an "honorable" man; he is very much dishonorable and calling him honorable does a disservice to all soldiers who do serve without treating subordinates like trash. Honorable soldiers do exist in the Army, and this man does not credit their status and husbands and wives. He got a deal so the other rift-raft can breathe easier...what message are you sending to parents who's children are thinking about a military career? Bogus 20,000 dollars punishment, no forfeiture, no jail time, and no discharge. Slap justice, why don't you?

  • Edward Levy Mar 20, 2014
    user avatar

    WHITEWASH! Can this be overridden or this final?

  • miseem Mar 20, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Tell that to many of the abused women in this state. While not a good idea, many women return to the same situation. That does not absolve the man of blame, and if he assaulted or raped her, resuming an abusive relationship does not excuse the crimes committed. I can't condone returning to a situation like this, but I also can't condone the general creating a situation like this. Doesn't say a lot about military justice.