General reprimanded in sex assault case

 

The Army general, who pleaded guilty to mistreating his mistress, will lose $20,000 in pay, but he will avoid jail time and won't be kicked out of the Army.

Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair was sentenced on Thursday after a plea deal was reached earlier this week, when Sinclair agreed to plead guilty to lesser charges but had the most serious sexual assault charges dropped.

ADVERTISEMENT
Sinclair was still facing a potential 18-month prison sentence and dismissal from the Army — which would have cost him his pension and healthcare benefits — but Judge Col. James Pohl handed down a lighter punishment in the high-profile case, according to The New York Times.

Sinclair’s attorney, Richard Scheff, said after the sentencing hearing that the general “will be putting in his retirement papers.”

Sinclair pleaded guilty to mistreating the Army captain with whom he had a three-year affair, as well as having inappropriate relationships with two other junior officers.

Had Sinclair been convicted of the sexual assault charges, he could have been sentenced to life in prison.

But the prosecution’s sexual assault case against Sinclair unraveled after contradictions appeared in his accuser’s story and the judge ruled that the Army took political considerations into its decision to move forward with the case.

The Sinclair case was playing out at the same time that the Senate was debating the way the military prosecutes sexual assault cases and whether commanders should make the decision to prosecute cases.

Both opponents and proponents of taking sexual assault cases outside the chain of command have cited the Sinclair case as evidence for their argument.

Supporters of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-N.Y.) bill to remove sexual assault cases from the chain of command criticized the sentence handed out to Sinclair.

“The Gen. Sinclair case will go down in history as yet another reason we need Senator Gillibrand's Military Justice Improvement Act,” said Greg Jacob, policy director of the Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN). "Today's sentencing is reflective of a case that fell apart long before today. A system shaky enough to be rocked by allegations of undue command influence cannot provide justice for our troops.”

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), who has proposed taking sexual assault cases outside the military’s judicial system altogether, called the sentence “another sordid example of how truly broken the military justice system is.”

“Even when the world is watching, the military has demonstrated their incompetence at meting out justice,” Speier said in a statement. “This sentence is a mockery of military justice, a slap on the wrist nowhere close to being proportional to Sinclair’s offenses.”

In closing arguments this week, the prosecution argued that Sinclair should have been dismissed from the Army, although they did not request jail time, according to The Associated Press.

"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 team argued that kicking Sinclair out of the military and costing him his benefits would hurt his wife and children, who were innocent in this case, the most.