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Army general fined, reprimanded in sex case

Army General Fined and Reprimanded in Sex Case

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) -- An army general avoided jail time and was reprimanded and fined a total of $20,000 for inappropriate relationships with three subordinates in a closely watched court case.

Sinclair smiled and hugged his two lawyers in the courtroom Thursday morning after the sentencing.

Sinclair had been accused of sexual assault during his affair with one subordinate, but the charges were dropped as part of a plea deal. He pleaded guilty to several charges including adultery - a crime in the military.

His case comes as the military works to curb sexual misconduct in its ranks and Congress considers military justice reforms aimed at helping assault victims.

The case against Sinclair was harmed in recent weeks over questions about the primary accuser's credibility and military officials' handling of a previous plea deal.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

An Army general who admitted breaking military law during improper relationships with three subordinates was expected to learn his punishment Thursday, two years after his primary accuser first came forward.

In closing arguments, prosecutors argued that Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair should be thrown out of the Army and lose his military benefits, while the defense said that would harm his innocent wife and children the most. The two sides also offered contrasting arguments about the seriousness of the misdeeds that felled the former deputy commander of the 82nd Airborne.

"It's not just one mistake. Not just one lapse in judgment. It was repeated," said prosecutor Maj. Rebecca DiMuro. "They are not mistakes. We are not in the court of criminal mistakes. These are crimes."

The defense had called a host of character witnesses this week to laud Sinclair as a selfless leader in hopes of getting a lenient punishment.

After both sides finished, Judge Col. James Pohl adjourned the hearing until Thursday morning. Sinclair's sentencing comes as the military and Congress grapple with sex crimes in the ranks.

Prosecutors did not ask the judge to send Sinclair to jail, even though the maximum penalty he faces on the charges to which he pleaded guilty is more than 20 years.

The sentence can't exceed terms in a sealed agreement between defense lawyers and military attorneys. The judge will make his own decision before unsealing the document, and Sinclair will receive whichever is the more lenient punishment.

The judge could dismiss Sinclair from the Army, which would likely wipe out his Veterans Administration health care and military retirement benefits. If the judge allows Sinclair to retire from the military instead, a board of Army officers would decide whether to reduce his rank - which could also cost him dearly in benefits.

The general admitted he mistreated a captain under his command during a three-year affair and had improper relationships with two other women. He also pleaded guilty to adultery - a crime in the military - as well as using his government-issued credit card to pay for trips to see his mistress and other conduct unbecoming an officer.

The 51-year-old general had been accused of twice forcing the female captain to perform oral sex during the three-year affair, but the sexual assault charges were dropped as part of the plea deal.

The Army's case against Sinclair started to crumble as questions arose about his primary accuser's credibility and whether military officials improperly rejected a previous plea deal because of political concerns.

A military lawyer representing Sinclair argued that his wife, Rebecca, had made a significant investment in the Army herself by holding leadership positions in organizations that helped soldiers' families. Maj. Sean Foster said Rebecca Sinclair and the couple's two sons would be hurt the most if the general lost benefits.

"These three are the only truly innocent people in this case," he said.

Even if Sinclair were allowed to retire and be demoted by two ranks, the defense calculated that he would still lose $831,000 in retirement benefits by age 82. And no matter what, Sinclair will be paying a hefty price with his lost career and ruined reputation.

"That is a life sentence in itself," Foster said.

Sinclair broke down in tears multiple times during Wednesday's hearing.

When a letter from his wife was read aloud, Sinclair buried his head in his hands, appeared to cry and dabbed his eyes with two tissues.

In the letter, Rebecca Sinclair says she hasn't fully forgiven her husband but doesn't want the Army to punish him and his family further with a significant reduction to his pension and other benefits.

"Believe me when I tell you that the public humiliation and vilification he has endured are nothing compared to the private suffering and guilt that he lives with every day," writes Rebecca Sinclair, who hasn't attended her husband's hearings.

Jeffrey Sinclair broke down at several points as he read a statement to the judge, pausing to collect himself. He apologized to his family and the women with whom he admitted inappropriate relationships.

"I've been frustrated and angry, but I don't have to look any further than the mirror for someone to blame," he said, noting the hearing came exactly two years after the captain came forward with allegations on March 19, 2012.

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btin020 March 21 2014 at 2:22 AM

Rank has it's privilege. This man committed crimes as defined by the military that he chose to be part of. He is supposed to be an officer and a gentleman. He failed at both and should be held accountable.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
Tim and Marnie March 21 2014 at 2:10 AM

If he were an enlisted man, they would have thrown the book at him.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
1 reply
mark and sheri Tim and Marnie March 21 2014 at 2:14 AM

So True.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
loamylam March 21 2014 at 2:21 AM

Let's face it, folks. It simply is not the Justice System....but the 'Just US System...AKA 'the good ole boys' club.
This does nothing to cut down on rape in the military but allows the Brass to operate their business as usual system.
What gets me is them worried about the wife and children having a hardship placed on them. Many wives and children face these hardships when their spouse gets sent to prison. Who has authorithy to place them on a pedestal? She prostitutes herself by sticking with him for 'security' so it's her problem. What about the victims? Who's concerned about THEM? This is outrageous!

Flag Reply +2 rate up
chefdorsback March 21 2014 at 3:01 AM

If that was just a regular grunt he would have been buried!!!!! What a sham!!!

Flag Reply +2 rate up
MaryTheresa March 21 2014 at 12:49 AM

He smiles and hugs his lawyers. Seems the top never has to pay full penalty. These men are sleaze who use their rank to get sex. They are a disgrace to the country.

Flag Reply +8 rate up
thomiha March 21 2014 at 12:27 AM

How soon will he be promoted?

Flag Reply +6 rate up
2 replies
derralh thomiha March 21 2014 at 12:29 AM

soon I hope

Flag Reply 0 rate up
abcstarfox thomiha March 21 2014 at 1:09 AM

Probably not log.
Now that he will be out of the service, he will probably become
a CEO at a bank and blackmail his female workers.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
lunarstruck March 21 2014 at 2:01 AM

No ONE should ever be allowed to plea down a sex crime, especially a superior officer in the military - this is just another DISGUSTING show of the "Old Boys' Club" - shame on you!

Flag Reply +3 rate up
abcstarfox March 21 2014 at 1:36 AM

Millitary or otherwise..... the usual double standard.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
iredhed March 21 2014 at 1:11 AM

Isn't it so sad he broke down in tears, was it when they told him he could keep his rank and retirement??? I wonder if the women he abused broke down in tears.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
napachiefs March 21 2014 at 3:21 AM

This "TURD" has been freed from other (TURDS) judging:

Flag Reply +1 rate up
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