Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair's case referred to general court-martial
The Fayetteville Observer
Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair will go to court-martial on charges ranging from fraud to forcible sodomy, Fort Bragg officials said Tuesday.
The case is scheduled for arraignment Jan. 22 at 9 a.m. at Fort Bragg. An arraignment is a court proceeding where the accused officially hears charges and can enter a plea. Fort Bragg officials said they expect Sinclair's arraignment to be open to the public.
"We are disappointed by the decision," said Lt. Col. Jackie L. Thompson Jr., Sinclair's lead defense lawyer, "but confident that General Sinclair will be exonerated of sexual assault at trial. ... You can expect that we will fight vigorously to bring the truth to light."
Sinclair faces eight charges of violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice and 25 specifications.
The UCMJ includes offenses which are not criminal in civilian courts, such as conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, which is among the specifications Sinclair faces.
The alleged incidents occurred during the past five years at Fort Bragg and other U.S. Army posts and in Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany and Kuwait, as well as on military airplane flights.
Names of the alleged victims were redacted from the Army charge sheet furnished to The Fayetteville Observer on Tuesday. The charges and specifications against Sinclair include:
- Forcible sodomy with a captain in Afghanistan.
- Engaging in sexual contacts with a captain by grabbing her without her consent.
- Disobeying an order from Maj. Gen. Jim Huggins, his superior officer, to cease all contact with a captain by calling her cellphone.
- Wrongfully engaging in an inappropriate relationship with a major.
- Wrongfully possessing alcohol in Afghanistan in violation of military orders.
- Wrongfully possessing and displaying sexually explicit photos and movies in Afghanistan in violation of military orders.
- Wrongfully using his government travel charge card for personal purposes.
- Using his rank and authority to "coerce and compel" a captain to maintain a sexual relationship and prevent her from ending the relationship.
- Attempting to engage in an inappropriate relationship with a first lieutenant.
- Having sexual intercourse with a captain and threatening her if she told anyone about their relationship.
Lt. Gen. Daniel B. Allyn on Friday referred the case to a general court-martial, Fort Bragg officials said. Allyn is the commander of Fort Bragg and the 18th Airborne Corps.
Sinclair, 50, is the first general in recent memory to face court-martial at Fort Bragg. The case comes at a time when the Department of Defense is attempting to prevent and punish sexual assault and sexual harassment in the military.
The charges against Sinclair were aired and witnesses testified during an Article 32 pretrial hearing in November on Fort Bragg. The investigating officer, Maj. Gen. Perry Wiggins, made recommendations to Allyn as to how to proceed after that hearing. Wiggins commands the 1st Army Division West based at Fort Hood, Texas, and is former commander of the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade at Fort Bragg.
If convicted, Sinclair could face up to life in prison and be forced to register as a sex offender.
Sinclair, who is assigned for administrative purposes as a special assistant to Allyn, was deputy commanding general for support of the 82nd Airborne Division. He was sent home from Afghanistan in the spring after the allegations surfaced.
Sinclair admitted an affair to military authorities but contended that any sex was consensual, according to sources close to his defense. He has described an accuser as becoming increasingly desperate while his relationship with her continued and he remained with his wife.
His wife, Rebecca Sinclair, has said in interviews on national television that said she stands by her husband and is confident that the most serious charges against him will be dismissed.
Staff writer Drew Brooks contributed to this report.
Military editor Henry Cuningham can be reached at email@example.com