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Mrs. Sinclair says she finds comfort in Fort Bragg family

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — The wife of Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair said she and her family have found comfort on Fort Bragg.

"My friends who are military spouses have been a rock," Rebecca Sinclair said Tuesday. "They're what's helping us to get through this."

Brig. Gen. Sinclair, the former deputy commanding general for support for the 82nd Airborne Division, was charged in September with forcible sodomy, adultery, maltreatment of subordinates and fraud.

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The charges earned national media attention and, coupled with the recent revelation of an affair involving retired Gen. David Petraeus, have shined a light on the lives of the military's top officers. Petraeus was forced to resign as director of the CIA.

Rebecca Sinclair said she is confident that the most serious charges against her husband will be dismissed. But she said it will take years for him to rehabilitate his once-promising military career and to overcome the media coverage.

"That's just the way it is," she said. "But we've received so much support and love from our friends that we know we'll make it through this tough situation."

Before speaking with The Fayetteville Observer, the educator and mother of two also wrote an opinion column for The Washington Post, appeared on "CBS This Morning" and MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports," and spoke with The Associated Press.

She said she does not fault the Army for investigating the sexual assault alleged against her husband but she said evidence presented at an Article 32 hearing earlier this month proves his innocence.

"The evidence speaks for itself," said Rebecca Sinclair, who did not attend the hearing. "Hundreds of text messages and journal entries prove that it was a consensual relationship. So do the two polygraph tests that Jeff passed. It doesn't make me happy to see that it was a consensual relationship. That's painful for me to know. But the evidence speaks for itself."

The scrutiny investigators paid to her husband had nothing to do with his rank, she said, and any allegation of assault should be aggressively investigated.

The Sinclairs have been married for 27 years.

"As I've said, Jeff was unfaithful, and he's admitted to that. He accepts responsibility for that and is ready to accept the consequences. But the evidence that came to light in last week's hearing disproved the other charges," Rebecca Sinclair said. "We have great faith in the Army and believe that these more serious charges will be dismissed, given the evidence in his favor."

She said her husband is a loving father who served honorably for 27 years.

"He made a mistake. He admits that mistake. But he's done the right thing by being truthful and open about his missteps, and I believe in him as much as I ever did," she said.

By all accounts, Brig. Gen. Sinclair had a promising military career. At his hearing, his lawyers read several quotes of praise from Army leaders, including Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick, who was quoted as saying Sinclair was destined for multiple stars, and Maj. Gen. James Huggins, who said Sinclair was one of the best officers to serve under him.

Rebecca Sinclair said the ordeal surrounding the allegations against her husband is unlike anything the family has ever faced. The marriage has included 17 moves, including a stay in Germany where Rebecca Sinclair was unfamiliar with the language and was unable to continue her career teaching community college. The family spent six of the past 11 years apart as her husband was deployed.

In her Washington Post column, Rebecca Sinclair suggested that stresses from a decade of combat deployments may have contributed to sex scandals involving high-ranking military leaders. She said the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have destabilized many military families.

"Our service men and women miss birthdays, graduations, anniversaries and all sorts of milestones in their families' lives," she wrote. "They come home from deployment and only have a year to integrate themselves back into the family. And then they leave again. Try doing this for a decade, and see what it does to a family."

It's not the first time Sinclair has spoken publicly. While her husband was a commander in Germany, she was quoted in Stars and Stripes advocating for families.

"The welfare of military families is an issue I've been passionate about throughout my husband's entire career," she said, detailing her efforts with family readiness groups, financial counseling, furthering education and concerns about the isolation of military spouses. "This is really a personal issue for me. Any military spouse knows that it's not just the soldier who serves and sacrifices. It's the family -- husbands and wives, sons and daughters. We have to take care of each other."

In addition to the three-year affair, Brig. Gen. Sinclair is accused of forcing the woman he was having an affair with to perform sex acts on two occasions and coercing lower-ranked soldiers to send him nude photos.

All of the women connected to those allegations said they were forced to testify by military officials and said they did not wish to see the one-star general punished.

Sinclair's lawyers argued that all of the relationships were consensual and indicated that his accuser became increasingly desperate when the general remained with his wife.

Fort Bragg officials said that based on the earlier hearing, the investigating officer, a two-star general based at Fort Hood, Texas, will submit a report to Lt. Gen. Daniel Allyn, commander of the 18th Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, with a recommendation on how to proceed in the case.

brooksd@fayobserver.com
 

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