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Military Law

General avoids jail in sexual misconduct case

Posted Mar 20, 2014 12:10 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair received a reprimand but no jail time Thursday for mistreating a captain who was also his mistress.

The New York Times calls the punishment “a sweeping victory for the defense.” Sinclair will be allowed to remain in the military, although he has plans to retire, his lawyer said after sentencing. But he will have to pay back $4,100 for improper credit card charges and will have to forfeit $20,000 in pay. The Los Angeles Times and the Fayetteville Observer also have stories.

Sinclair, who has said the affair was consensual, reached a plea agreement earlier this week in which more serious sexual assault charges were dropped. The defense had argued prosecutors and their commanders were influenced by political considerations when they refused to accept a prior plea, an assertion deemed a possibility by Judge Col. James Pohl.

The Los Angeles Times has details of Sinclair’s guilty pleas entered on Monday and the prior week. The charges to which he pleaded guilty include mistreating the captain, adultery, misusing his government charge card, impeding an investigation by deleting explicit emails, and conducting inappropriate relationships with two other female officers.

Advocates for women in the military have said any sexual relationship between a superior and junior military officer cannot be considered consensual.

The Fayetteville Observer says Sinclair “looked a little teary eyed” after the sentence was announced, hugging his lawyers and supporters. "The system worked,” he said later outside the courtroom. “I'm proud of my Army. All I want to do now is go up north and hug my kids and see my wife."

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