Sex assault charges against general dropped

Sexual assault charges against Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair were dropped on Monday, as the general agreed to plead guilty to lesser charges.

Under the agreement, Sinclair pleaded guilty to maltreatment of a junior officer with whom he had a three-year affair and other offenses.

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But the most serious charges of sexual assault — the junior officer accused Sinclair of forcing her twice to perform oral sex — were dropped in the agreement. The sexual assault charges could have included a sentence of life in prison and required Sinclair to register as a sex offender.

The sentencing hearing for Sinclair will begin later on Monday. Sinclair’s attorney, Richard Scheff, said that he expected the general “to retire at a reduced rank and go home to his family,” according to The Associated Press.

Sinclair is likely to face a reduction in rank and dismissal from the Army. He is admitting he “maltreated” the female captain he had an affair with, and caused her mental harm and suffering during the affair.

Sinclair’s plea agreement was reached after the prosecution’s case broke down last week.

The prosecution was hampered by discrepancies in the accuser’s statements, and then the judge, Col. James Pohl, ruled last week there was improper command influence in the case.

The judge had found that the Army’s decision to go to trial, rather than accept an earlier plea deal, was influenced by the political circumstances surrounding the case.

The accuser had said she wanted the case to go to trial, and her attorney wrote to the commander that a plea deal would “have an adverse effect on my client and the Army's fight against sexual assault.”

Sinclair is believed to be the highest-ranking official to face sexual assault charges, and the case was proceeding amid a heated battle in Congress over how the military prosecutes sexual assault cases.

Sinclair also pleaded guilty to three other lesser charges last week, including to committing adultery with the Army captain, to having inappropriate relationships with two other female officers and to possessing pornography while in Afghanistan.