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Court-martial ahead for 1-star in sex case

Dec. 19, 2012 - 01:45PM   |   Last Updated: Dec. 19, 2012 - 01:45PM  |  
Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair faces court-martial on charges that include forced sex, pornography, engaging in inappropriate relationships, misusing a government travel charge card, and conduct unbecoming an officer.
Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair faces court-martial on charges that include forced sex, pornography, engaging in inappropriate relationships, misusing a government travel charge card, and conduct unbecoming an officer. (Army)
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Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair will face a court-martial over forcible sodomy and other sexual misconduct charges in connection with an affair and inappropriate relationships with subordinates, according to the Army.

Sinclair, who faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted of the most serious offenses, is alleged to have mistreated subordinates while carrying out the affair and attempted to cover up his conduct with threats and by deleting nude photos and an email account.

The Army released today the five-page list of charges, which involves Sinclair's conduct with five women other than his wife and covers his alleged illicit activities in Afghanistan, Iraq, Germany and at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Sinclair, whose Army career spans 27 years, was the 82nd Airborne Division's deputy commanding general for support until he was ordered home from Afghanistan after a female captain reported their three-year affair.

Lt. Gen. Daniel Allyn, commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps, referred the case to a general court-martial. Sinclair is set to be arraigned on Jan. 22.

At evidentiary hearings a Fort Bragg, N.C., in November, the female captain testified that she tried to break off the relationship with Sinclair and that he had threatened to kill her and her family if she talked about their affair.

Though she said their affair — conducted in the war zone, in hotels and parking garages — was generally consensual, she also testified that Sinclair twice exposed himself and forced her to perform oral sex, once as she was crying.

She testified that she had not wanted Sinclair to face criminal charges, and she came forward after she discovered correspondence between him and a different woman. After reporting the affair to Maj. Gen. James Huggins, then the commander of the 82nd Airborne, the captain was relieved of her duties and placed under investigation for adultery and fraternization.

Two female officers who had served with Sinclair testified that they had given the general nude photos at his request.

Defense attorneys have sought to portray the female captain as angry and vengeful, a "crazy" and manipulative "back-stabber" who blamed others for her mistakes.

Lt. Col. Jackie L. Thompson Jr., lead defense attorney, in an emailed statement, expressed disappointment with the charges and confidence Sinclair would be exonerated of sexual assault charges at trial.

Thompson pointed to reams of text messages between Sinclair and the female captain, and the captain's journal entries, which, Thompson said, "clearly establish the consensual nature of their relationship."

"His accuser admitted under oath that she never wanted these charges [to] be leveled, yet the government moved forward irrespective of the wishes of the alleged victim," Thompson said. "It is regrettable that the government has compelled a young officer to level false charges against a decorated combat veteran. You can expect that we will fight vigorously to bring the truth to light."

Defense attorneys have said that Sinclair passed a polygraph test in which he denied ever forcing the female captain to engage in sexual activity, either by fondling her against her will or making her perform oral sex.

His wife, Rebecca Sinclair, stayed away from the days-long military hearing but later went public in the press, saying she was not condoning her husband's infidelity, but she said that the decade of war has taken its toll on military couples and brought pressure on their marriages.

In an interview with Army Times, she said the couple was attempting to work through their problems.

The charges

A public relations firm that represents the Sinclair family provided copies of the results to Army Times after the charge sheets were released.

The charges under the UCMJ are as follows:

• One specification Art. 125, alleging Sinclair would force the female captain to commit sodomy.

• Two specifications under Art. 120, alleging he groped the woman on a military flight from Iraq to Kuwait and at other times, and that he would wrongfully commit "indecent conduct" and "sexual acts" with her — the details of which were redacted.

• One specification under Art. 80, alleging he disobeyed a no-contact order by calling the female captain's cell phone.

• Eight specifications under Art. 92, alleging he disobeyed orders or regulations when he engaged in inappropriate relationships with the captain and a major; possessed alcohol in Afghanistan; possessed pornography in Afghanistan and Iraq; and used his government charge card for personal purposes.

• Two specifications under Art. 93, alleging he maltreated the female captain and used his rank and authority to "coerce and compel" her to "maintain a sexual relationship with him and prevent her from ending the sexual relationship with him."

• Two specifications under Art. 132, alleging he asked to be reimbursed for roughly $4,000 in expenses for official trips to Fort Huachuca, Ariz., and Fort Hood, Texas, which were actually personal trips to visit the female captain.

• Six specifications under Art. 133, alleging he engaged in conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman as he conducted the alleged affair and the other inappropriate relationships — with a major and a first lieutenant.

Sinclair allegedly coerced the female captain into the relationship "by threatening to use his rank, position, and authority to damage or ruin her military career if she ended their sexual relationship"

He also allegedly possessed nude photographs and a sexually explicit video from a major.

Sinclair also used "derogatory and demeaning" words to refer to female staff officers, and when confronted about the use of that language he responded, "I'm a general, I'll say whatever the [expletive] I want."

Three specifications under Article 134, alleging he engaged in conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline when he engaged in the adulterous relationship; threatened the woman not to reveal the relationship; and when he deleted the nude photos and an email account to "impede an investigation" into his conduct.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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