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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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rrrprc March 20 2014 at 2:14 PM

You have to Sign In first to leave a comment.Apparently the old saying still holds true "RANK HAS PRIVILAGES" AND THE JUDGE JUST LABLED THE VICTIMS HIGH PRICED ******

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crrunch March 20 2014 at 6:04 PM

If all they're doing is slapping his hand, the military should rethink all the words they've been throwing around on the subject . The court just proved that, obviously, talk is real cheap. Who better than this guy should know that his actions were/will effect more than just himself. He risked his rank and pension, wife & children, and they let him walk away with all of it. Monumentally pathetic.

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zazu310 March 20 2014 at 1:30 PM

This is exactly WHY these cases need to be tried outside the military. For forcible sex, RAPE - he was given a slap on the hand --- typical military justice for sexual misconduct. While I feel sorry for his wife and kids should he loose his pension etc ---- he should have thought about that (at least 3 times that we know of). What a shining example he is to his kids. I'll be the only thing he is ashamed of is that it was brought out into the open. I feel quite certain that he feels no shame for his infidelity, after all he did it again, and again and again.

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1 reply
jba35129 zazu310 March 20 2014 at 1:37 PM

zazu---here's the problem..Jesse Jackson Jr is in jail and he isn't losing his pension. As a matter of fact he's collecting disability for being "bi-polar"...

Flag Reply 0 rate up
tlmtlm March 20 2014 at 1:30 PM

The justice system has to stop allowing "men will be men" adage, and punish them like the common criminals they are.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
Mabel March 20 2014 at 1:29 PM

If he were a private, they wouldn't care one whit about his wife and children.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
Charles March 20 2014 at 1:28 PM

As a young Captain, I watched a Major in my Squadron, lose his rank, his benefits and was sent to Leavenworth prison, for having consensual sex with a young Airman. He lived on base, his family was given a very short period to vacate. Did the military care about his dependents? Little people pay the price, those at the top walk. Shame on the Army. This guy should be checking into a prison cell for a few years. He should lose his benefits and he should be kicked out of the system after he finishes his prison time.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
KJMAC203 March 20 2014 at 6:05 PM

If this was me or anybody else, we would be jailed and lose al lour benefits. And what about the woman, you think in the future they will come forward? Do the crime, do the time. What a joke!!

Flag Reply +2 rate up
cla.connie March 20 2014 at 6:05 PM

I am betting the SLUG gets to keep his rank and retirement goodies.

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1 reply
itzfatcat cla.connie March 20 2014 at 7:02 PM

He will if he is not charged with other crimes.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
carp940 March 20 2014 at 6:06 PM

It's disgusting! But what can we expect when the Top Military Brass and the Pentagon have been aloud to run virtually unchecked since Eisenhower was President, who was the First to warn against, an unfettered Military Industrial Complex!!

Flag Reply +2 rate up
dali456 March 20 2014 at 6:06 PM

This is not fair!This disgusting predator should be in jail!

Flag Reply +3 rate up
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