General charged with sexual assault fined, avoids jail

The two-year sexual assault case against Brig. Gen. Sinclair has finally come to an end.
By Gabrielle Levy  |  March 20, 2014 at 12:07 PM
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Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair was given a reprimand and a fine, but will avoid jail time and stay in the Army, a military judge determined Thursday morning.

The years-long sexual assault case came to a close when the judge at Fort Bragg, Col. James L. Pohl, officially reprimanded Sinclair, 51, for mistreating his mistress and other minor charges. Pohl ordered Sinclair to forfeit $5,000 a month in pay for four months, but will be allowed to keep his pension and stay in the Army.

The decision is a sweeping victory for the defense team that had picked apart the Army's case against the general, questioning the testimony of Sinclair's chief accuser, a 34-year-old captain with whom he had carried on an affair.

After the judge determined the Pentagon had unlawfully influenced the case, perhaps pushing to prosecute amid concerns over how the military handles sexual assault in its ranks, Sinclair pleaded guilty to lesser crimes in exchange for seeing the most egregious charges dropped.

When the case began, Sinclair faced a possible life sentence on charges he had forced the captain, with whom he had engaged in a three-year affair, to perform oral sex and threatened to kill her and her family if she revealed the affair. Instead, he pleaded guilty to adultery and mistreatment of the captain, which are crimes under the military Uniform Code.

While the judge denied prosecutors' request to dismiss Sinclair from the army, the general's attorney, Richard L. Scheff, said the general “will be putting in his retirement papers" after the sentencing.

[New York Times]

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