Government drops sex assault charges against General Sinclair

Sexual assault charges against Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair have been dropped, and a plea deal accepted, according to his defense.
March 17, 2014 3:39:39 AM PDT
Sexual assault charges against Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair have been dropped, and a plea deal accepted, according to his defense.

"After wasting millions of taxpayer dollars, the Army has admitted to what it's known for many months: General Sinclair is innocent of sexual assault," said lead defense attorney Richard Scheff, in a statement.

On Sunday afternoon, Sinclair's defense team said an Offer to Plead, or OTP, had been accepted by Fort Bragg Major General Clarence Chinn earlier in the weekend. The agreement confirms the government will drop sexual assault charges, and two other charges that would have led to Sinclair registering as a sex offer. Other charges that will be dropped include credit card fraud, and one alleging Sinclair forced his accuser to stay in their relationship.

In turn, Sinclair is pleading guilty to adultery and the mistreatment of his accuser, a charge the defense notes as unique to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, or UCMJ.

The government and the defense have also agreed on a cap for the penalties. That agreement has not been detailed yet.

The agreement comes less than a week after Col. James Pohl, the presiding judge in the case, ruled Unlawful Command Influence had damaged the high-profile case, in which the general was accused of sexual assault by a female Captain with whom he had a three-year affair. The woman, whose testimony had already been heard by a panel before the ruling, accused the general of sexual assault and threatening to kill her and her family.

Last week, e-mail evidence requested by the defense months ago finally made it to the courtroom. It outlined conversations between Staff Judge Advocates, including LTG. Joseph Anderson, and the alleged victim's Special Victims Counsel. The chain suggested the Army denied Sinclair's original OTP pre-trial, as a result of political pressure to prosecute the case.

Congress is currently grappling with whether the military should try their own sexual assault cases.

The defense maintained they had been warned about the politics involved in the case by the Army's former lead prosecutor, LTC. William Helixon, who dropped out of the case just weeks before trial.

"The government understood that if it allowed BG Sinclair's accuser to be cross-examed she would be caught in a thick web of her own lies," said Scheff. "It shouldn't have taken two years for them to come to this conclusion, but they were driven by politics rather than justice."

This week, the sentencing phase for Sinclair will begin. There is the agreement on the penalties, which Pohl is not clued in on, and there is the sentence Pohl will issue. The lesser of the two sentences will be issued.

Sinclair's defense said the general's damaged reputation and financial costs should be considered in the sentencing.


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