Brig. Gen. Jeff Sinclair, wife working through challenges

By PAUL WOOLVERTON | The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer (MCT) | Published: March 3, 2014

Rebecca Sinclair said last summer that she forgives her husband, Brig. Gen. Jeff Sinclair, for the extramarital affair that will put him in front of a court-martial panel Tuesday.

Jeff Sinclair is accused of adultery for having the affair and of sexually assaulting his girlfriend. He is further accused of inappropriate relationships with other women and other military crimes.

Sinclair has acknowledged the adultery. His lawyers say he is not guilty of the other charges.

Testimony over the next several weeks likely will detail Sinclair's relationship with an Army captain who testified at a hearing in November 2012 that she had been in love with him. The captain and the general had a sexual relationship that started in Iraq in summer 2009 and ended in Afghanistan in March 2012.

"Did I ever think it could happen? Of course, because I knew so many people personally that it happened to," Rebecca Sinclair said in an interview in July. "But you hope it never happens to you, is what you really want to say. You hope it never happens."

She said she had no suspicions of the affair.

"I didn't see it coming," she said.

As a senior leader, Jeff Sinclair was busy, Rebecca Sinclair said, and as a senior leader's wife, she was, too. They are not the couple they were when they married, she said. Deployments kept them apart for six of the past 12 years.

"I do forgive him for this, and we are working through that. We go to counseling, couples counseling," Rebecca Sinclair said.

On the advice of his lawyers, Sinclair declined to be interviewed before the trial.

Through an Army spokesman, his accuser and other women alleging wrongdoing have declined to comment.

Rebecca Sinclair said she learned of the affair from her husband in an overseas telephone call in late March 2012. He was serving a deployment to Afghanistan at that time.

"We, both of us, we had no idea that there were any other circumstances at the time," Rebecca Sinclair said.

Those circumstances involve the other criminal allegations.

"We did not know that there was all this other until much later. So at that point, it was just dealing with: How do we handle this as a couple? What do we want to do?" she said.

It was difficult for the couple to decide whether to stay together, she said.

"We've been together 28 years, and now we do have two children. I think that it's not a decision I was going to take lightly," she said. "I'm not 24 years old and no kids. And this is my life. This is our life."

In fall 2012, Rebecca Sinclair wrote in a column in The Washington Post and said on national television that military families have been stressed by long, repeated deployments during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. She has seen similar incidents of infidelity among her friends, she said in July.

"It was very hurtful, to think that there was a betrayal," she said. "But in actuality, we were separated for so long. People tend to grow apart, and you start living your own lives.

"And when you have kids, you end up, 'We're doing this, and you're doing that, and we're going here, and we're going there.' ... I can understand how it happened."

The couple considered their two sons, now ages 13 and 11, in the decision to stay together, she said.

"We have kids, and we're a family," she said. "I never pictured my life being different than growing old and being with Jeff. So that's kind of how we both feel. And he does admit that he made a mistake, and he knows that there are consequences to that, and he's doing his best to be a good husband and to work on our marriage."

Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair leaves a Fort Bragg, N.C., courthouse on Jan. 22, 2013, after he deferred entering a plea at his arraignment on charges of fraud, forcible sodomy, coercion and inappropriate relationships.


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