Under the terms of an agreement with military prosecutors, the
government will drop sex assault charges against Brigadier General
Jeffrey Sinclair, as well as two other charges that would have
forced him to register as a sex offender, lead defense attorney
Richard Scheff said in an email.
Sinclair, 51, had been charged with forcible sodomy based on
allegations by a female U.S. Army captain that could have sent the
27-year Army veteran to prison for life.
Sinclair is expected to enter his additional guilty pleas, including
mistreatment of his accuser and failure to end an extramarital
affair, in military court at Fort Bragg, North Carolina on Monday,
his legal team said.
A spokeswoman for military prosecutors said they would withhold
comment until the deal is announced in court.
It was unclear if the judge in the case would move directly to
Sinclair already had pleaded guilty this month to military crimes of
having an adulterous affair, asking junior female officers for nude
photos and possessing pornography on his laptop while deployed in
Afghanistan. Those offenses carry a maximum penalty of 15 years in
prison and possible dismissal from the Army.
Sinclair's attorneys plan to argue that he should not face jail time
on any of the charges, though he would accept retirement at a
reduced rank, which would lower his pension.
Sinclair, the defendant in a rare court-martial against a top U.S.
military officer, had vowed to fight charges that he sexually
assaulted the 34-year-old female captain, saying their three-year
relationship that spanned two war zones had been consensual.
His victim gave tearful testimony early this month accusing Sinclair
of twice forcing her to engage in oral sex when she tried to break
off the relationship and accusing him of threatening to kill her if
she told anyone about the affair.
The defense said it would prove Sinclair's accuser was not a
credible witness. But his lawyers did not get a chance to
cross-examine her after the trial was delayed indefinitely last week
when the prosecution's case hit a stumbling block. A judge ruled
that politics appeared to have fueled the Army's decision to reject
an earlier plea offer made by Sinclair.
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The judge also said he would allow Sinclair to renew an offer to
plead guilty to lesser charges in exchange for the more serious
being dismissed. That request had previously been rejected by
military leaders at Fort Bragg.
A married father of two, Sinclair was stripped of command in
southern Afghanistan in May 2012 as a result of the criminal
"It shouldn't have taken two years for them to come to this
conclusion," Scheff said. "Like other persons cleared of false rape
allegations, General Sinclair has borne enormous reputational and
financial costs. These costs should factor into sentencing."
Sinclair's court-martial came at a time the U.S. military is
grappling with how to handle rising sexual assault, after a report
that incidents of unwanted sexual contact, from groping to rape,
jumped by 37 percent in 2012, to 26,000 cases.
The U.S. Senate last week passed by an overwhelming margin a bill
that would reform how the military handles sexual assault charges.
The bill, subject to House approval, would strengthen prosecutors'
role in advising commanders on whether to go to court-martial and
eliminating the "good soldier" defense which allowed courts to
reduced the sentence of offenders with strong military records.
(Writing by Victoria Cavaliere in New York;
editing by Scott Malone,
Matthew Lewis and Marguerita Choy)
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