Army general pleads guilty to adultery, still faces sodomy charge

Posted at 2:52 PM, Mar 06, 2014
By Greg Botelho


(CNN) — Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair — once one of the U.S. Army’s top commanders in Afghanistan — pleaded guilty Thursday to several charges related to sexual relationships with female troops, but not the most serious one against him.

According to the public affairs office for Fort Bragg, in North Carolina, Sinclair pleaded guilty to committing adultery, engaging in inappropriate relationships with three women, conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman and obstruction of justice.

Col. James L. Pohl, the judge overseeing his court martial, accepted these pleas after being convinced they were factual and made voluntarily.

The government’s lawyers dropped two counts — one of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman and the other for cruelty and maltreatment.

Sinclair still stands accused of “sodomy … by force and without the consent” of his alleged victim, an Army captain. Charges also loom for alleged cruel and maltreatment of subordinates and defrauding the government, according to Fort Bragg.

“The only substantive charges remaining are assault,” Josh Zeitz, a spokesman for Sinclair and his defense team, said Thursday from Fort Bragg.

Sinclair pleaded not guilty to those charges Thursday. His court martial is expected to resume Friday morning with opening statements and the prosecution presenting its case, according to the Fort Bragg press office.

Once the deputy commander of the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, Sinclair was moved to the North Carolina post from Afghanistan in 2012, the same year the last alleged incidents occurred and when he was originally charged.

Prosecutors said he broke military law through sexual relationships — including threats to some women involved, who had lower ranks — between 2009 and 2012, overseas in Iraq, Afghanistan and Germany, as well as Fort Bragg and Fort Hood, Texas.

The charge sheet claims Sinclair had pornographic images and videos, misled investigators and defrauded the government “by wrongfully using his government travel charge for personal purposes.”

His lawyer, Richard Scheff, criticized the government’s case Thursday, including its efforts to include “salacious details about acts that aren’t even criminal in the civilian world” as part of its case.

His client “has consistently admitted his shortcomings and taken responsibility for them,” Scheff said.

CNN’s Suzanne Presto and Tristan Smith contributed to this report.

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