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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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Hello Jiggy March 20 2014 at 5:32 PM

I gues it's still the "GOOD OLE BOYS CLUB". Why shouldn't he pay for what he has done, he got a slap on the wrist and told not to do that again. Shame on the military to protect their own, regardless of what happened to those women.

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dali456 March 20 2014 at 6:06 PM

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

Flag Reply +3 rate up
shesasexxxywrtr March 20 2014 at 6:07 PM

Rebecca Sinclair married Sinclair for better or for worse! He should not get off, just because she will suffer. If she was married to any other man in this country and he lost his job, his career, she would have to deal with the fact that his paycheck would be reduced or no longer have one and go from there. It is no different and shouldn't be treated any differently with those hard cruel facts just because he is an officer he should get off and that I need the money. As an officer he violated the "code of conduct" by the military. He should not be exempt from the punishment. He should be kicked out of the military witn NO retirement benefits. This shouldn't be treated as a slap on the wrist with don't do this again type of ordeal. Anything less then that, and it just sends a message that if you have RANK, you can get away with anything! I am sure the three women who were involved in whatever way they were involved where probably threatened that if you tell anyone your career will be over with. I am sure after this case that their career in service is done because of this whole ordeal. It's sad that those with rank think they can do anything. Sinclair needs to be stripped of his title and his money. May be then he will truly learn the lesson of his decisions and behavior and how he has ruined other people's lives besides his own!

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xanadutu March 20 2014 at 6:09 PM

Damn - A mere 20,000 FINE and slap on the wrist!!
Why are the little wife and the kiddies being taken into consideration ---
AND NOT THE VICTIM??????
MISOGYNISTIC PIGS - EVERY DAMN FN ONE OF THEM!!!

Flag Reply +3 rate up
1 reply
itzfatcat xanadutu March 20 2014 at 7:00 PM

You are correct the family should not come into consideration; however, for all we know the women were the predators, looking for favors and advancement.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
bldrpartnship March 20 2014 at 6:10 PM

And did you expect anything different? What a disgrace for all who had a part in this decision.
No one has any HONOR here. You wonder why this country is in trouble, with leaders like these and those who protect his back and turn a blind eye. How many generals have been caught with their pants down in the last couple of years?

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1 reply
itzfatcat bldrpartnship March 20 2014 at 6:57 PM

I know look at our politicians, even presidents caught with their pants down and many never called on it. They get away with it so why not military members and citizens at large.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Action Jackson March 20 2014 at 6:15 PM

If this guy had been an NCO, he would be on his way to Levenworth right now. Officers take care of their own, always have and always will.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
1 reply
itzfatcat Action Jackson March 20 2014 at 6:54 PM

Have you been in the military - well I was for 22 years. Very few if any military go to jail for adultery. Assualt yes, but it has to be proven first. Even then most often there is no jail time, just thrown out of the military with a bad conduct discharge.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
sharkzback March 20 2014 at 6:25 PM

I guess rank really does have its privileges...and this general and this decision is pretty rank!

Flag Reply +5 rate up
franorm73 March 20 2014 at 6:25 PM

Absolutely appalling! As a 20 year veteran of the Air Force, I am disgusted. How can this man ever be trusted to lead our troops again. Whatever happened to duty, honor, all the things that our military was based on. This man is a disgrace to the uniform, and the judge who handed down this ruling is just as bad. At a minimum he should be given a reduction in rank and been thrown out of the military

Flag Reply +6 rate up
1 reply
dansss8128 franorm73 March 20 2014 at 6:30 PM

He wont be. He's retiring.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
Mike March 20 2014 at 1:36 PM

As a retired enlisted man I am not surprised that he got such a light sentence if it was an enlisted man he would have lost more than 2 pay grades. It is about time the military stop treating general officers like they are demi-gods.

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tazteq March 20 2014 at 1:33 PM

Vastly different standards for the "ruling class" including General Officers. Bill Clinton engaged in the same repeated conduct, was impeached, but allowed to finish his term in office. This General will also be allowed to retire and retain his benefits. I assure you if a lower ranking officer or enlisted person had engaged in such conduct, they would have lost everything and may have been sentenced to prison as an example to please the activist woman's groups. Where were the women's groups during the Clinton disaster and where have they been for this one?

Vastly different standards legally as well as morally, at least to the left.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
Hey Sexy Soldier tazteq March 20 2014 at 1:40 PM

TOTAL AGREE...WHY DONT WASHINGTON TELL THE REAL TRUTH..

Flag Reply 0 rate up
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