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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The General Jeffrey Allen Sinclair Case

     In 1985, after graduating from West Virginia University, Jeffrey Allen Sinclair began his career in the U.S. Army as an officer and a paratrooper. He served at Fort Benning, Georgia, Fort Hood, Texas, and Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Overseas, Sinclair was stationed in Germany and in Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm, the first Gulf War. As he rose in rank, Sinclair served two tours in Iraq and was deployed to Afghanistan three times. This high-profile, highly decorated officer rose to the rank of Brigadier General. In July 2010, General Sinclair became the Deputy Commanding General of the 82nd Airborne Division in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

     In May 2012, the 50-year-old One-Star General was removed from his command in southern Afghanistan and sent home to Fort Bragg, North Carolina where he was named Special Assistant to Lieutenant General Daniel Allyn, the Commanding General of the 18th Airborne Corps. General Sinclair's transfer from a position of leadership in Afghanistan to a desk job in the states raised eyebrows and inquiries from the media. The Army, however, refused comment on the reason behind the general's sudden removal from command.

     The reason behind the Army's action against General Sinclair became public on September 26, 2012 with the announcement that criminal charges had been filed against the general, and that an Article 32 hearing had been scheduled to determine if Army prosecutors had enough evidence to move the case forward to a full court-marital trial before a military judge and jury. (An Article 32 hearing is the military version of the civilian grand jury.)

     The Army, at this point in the case, refused to provide detailed information regarding the nature of the charges against the general except to reveal that the most serious charges were sexual offenses. Although court-martial cases against high-ranking officers were extremely rare, the media didn't pay much attention to this story.

     General Sinclair's Article 32 hearing, held at Fort Bragg, the Fayetteville, North Carolina home to the 82nd Airborne Division, got underway on Monday, November 5, 2012 before hearing officer Major General Perry L. Wiggins. For the first time, the specific allegations against the general became a matter of public record. The most serious accusations involved forcible sodomy committed on five women--four military subordinates and one civilian--in Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany, Fort Hood, and Fort Bragg between 2007 and 2012.

     Lesser charges against General Sinclair included possession of pornography; use of alcohol while deployed; engaging in inappropriate relationships; misuse of government travel charge cards; and conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. According to court documents, the General was also accused of trying to silence a victim by threatening her career and life, and the lives of her relatives.

     Major General James Higgins, the defendant's commanding officer, testified that he launched an investigation after a female captain accused General Sinclair of forcing her to have sex with him over a period of three years. According to accounts of this testimony as reported in the Fayetteville Observer, the general's sexual encounters with several women occurred "in a parking lot, in his office in Afghanistan with the door open, on an exposed balcony at a hotel, and on a plane where he allegedly groped a woman." (One of these encounters involved an accusation of rape.) When subordinates confronted the general with his out-of-control behavior with women, he reportedly said, "I'm a general, I'll do whatever the [expletive] I want."

     On Tuesday, November 6, 2012, the second day of the Article 32 hearing, the female Army captain took the stand and testified that the defendant had initiated their three-year sexual affair in 2008 while they were stationed at a forward operations base in Iraq. In Afghanistan, he threatened to kill her and her family if she told anyone about their relationship. On two occasions, the Brigadier General, following a conversation in which the captain tried to end the relationship, exposed himself, then forced her to perform oral sex. In Afghanistan, Sinclair was so controlling, he told the captain how much water she could drink as well as where and when she could use the bathroom.

     On several occasions, during the captain's testimony, she broke down in tears. Seated at the defendant's table, the general rolled his eyes, sighed audibly, and glared at his former aide. The witness avoided eye contact with the general. "I was extremely intimidated by him," she said. "Everyone in the brigade spoke about him like he was a god." The witness said she had taken his threats seriously because of his Ranger training and his reputation of fearlessness in battle. The captain reported the general after finding messages from another woman in his email account.

     On cross-examination, the general's attorney tried to portray this witness as a jilted lover seeking revenge. The defense attorney also pointed out that his client had passed a polygraph test in which he denied forcing the captain into oral sex. The cross-examining lawyer also introduced explicit test messages the captain had sent to the general in which she referred to him as "Mr. Sexy Pants." The witness had also expressed her love and admiration for General Sinclair, comparing him, in a birthday card inscription, to General Washington, a man he admired. In response to the cross-examiner's questions, the captain, at one point said, "In a (expletive)-up way, I still love him. I don't want him to be mad at me."

     The next day, prosecutors put a second woman on the stand who testified that she first met the general when she was a staff sergeant serving in Afghanistan. They did not have a sexual relationship, but over the years stayed in touch. In 2011, when the witness was married and a captain, the general asked her to send him nude photographs of herself. (They hadn't seen each other in years.) After several of these requests, the captain downloaded photographs from a porn site, cropped the head of a model onto a woman posing nude, and sent the photographs to Sinclair. The general didn't realize the images where not of the captain. For her participation in this bizarre exercise, the Army had issued this officer a letter of reprimand.  

     Another female officer took the stand and testified that in 2010 she sent the general photographs of her breasts. At the time they were both stationed at Fort Bragg. The major, a company commander under Sinclair, has been disciplined in this matter for so-called "indecent acts."

     On November 8, in her closing argument, defense attorney Major Elizabeth Ramsey, painted the general's primary accuser as a scorned lover who was trying to ruin the life of an outstanding warrior and patriot. "Her lies are her fury, and these charges are Jeff Sinclair's hell," she said.

     The prosecutor, Lieutenant-Colonel William Helixon, in his closing presentation, drew a different picture of the defendant by stating that, "General Sinclair has engaged in a deliberate, degrading course of conduct where he targets his subordinates to satisfy his abhorrent desires."

     Under the military system of justice, there are no minimum sentencing guidelines. This meant that even if the case went to trial and the general was convicted of all charges, he could avoid punishment. The judge could demote him, allow him to retire, dismiss him from the Army, or send him to prison for life. Experts on military justice who were following this case did not think the general, if convicted, would be sent to prison.

     On November 15, 2012, about a week after the close of the four-day Article 32 hearing (the hearing officer had not yet made his ruling regarding whether the case would proceed to court-martial), General Sinclair's wife Rebecca, in an 800-word opinion column for the Washington Post, blamed her husband's infidelity on "the stress of war." Mrs. Sinclair said she was certain the sex offense charges against the general would be dropped. So, if we were to take the general's wife seriously, he wasn't a horny control freak abusing his power. He was merely a man under stress.

     The Sinclair case didn't generate much media interest until the sex-scandals regarding Generals David H. Petraeus and John R. Allen became news. Even though General Sinclair was charged with crimes that could put him away for life, the scandals involving David Petraeus, Paula Broadwell, and Jill Kelley dominated the news. That was because Petraeus was Director of the CIA and a key player in the Benghazi massacre.

     In the end, General Sinclair was spared a prison sentence in favor of a $20,000 fine. Sinclair was only the third Army general to face court-martial in sixty years.

     

2 comments:

  1. I was in 1-18 when he was a Col. He did an outstanding job forming relationships with the locals in Tikrit and providing new jobs for workers. The MI assigned to Tikrit at that time also performed at the highest level. These two facts, combined with the city-wide breach and clear we performed after Aco lost their CO were the reason for our almost non-existant casualty rate. It is also true that when we were relieved, the new Task Force took more casualties in the first month than we had in our entire rotation. However, the UCMJ is the UCMJ, there's nothing we can do about it. We have to hold high ranking officers to the same (if not a higher) standard as every other soldier. I don't know what really happened, or what the status of his marraige was, or if his relationship with his wife was in the shtter, so I can't judge him, but in the military, both adultery and sodomy (blowjobs are considered sodomy) are illegal. I find it hilarious that the accuser came forward only after she learned the Gen. wasn't planning on leaving his wife. It is also hilarious that he passed the polygraph when questioned about "forcible sodomy." How can you be "in love" with someone who has threatened to kill you and your family. I call BS. If you think it's okay to send someone to jail for the rest of their life just for cheating, you need to see a psychiatrist. It's crazy how pssy is the downfall of so many great leaders. Just think what's going to happen when they start letting females into the Infantry. LMAO Oh well, civilian Harvard graduates know best!??

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  2. I also worked for him. I thought he was pretty unethical, but never foresaw anything like this coming. BTW, if you pay for a polygraph you can pretty much get whatever result you want.

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