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Nation/World

March 17, 2014

Defense: General's deal drops sex assault charge

RALEIGH, N.C. — Defense attorneys said yesterday that the Army will drop sexual assault charges against a general under a plea deal that marks the end of a closely watched case that unfolded as the military grapples with sex crimes within the ranks.

Lawyers representing Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair said he will plead to lesser charges in exchange for the dropping of the sexual assault charges and two other counts that might have required Sinclair to register as a sex offender.

Sinclair, 51, had been accused of twice forcing a female captain under his command to perform oral sex during a three-year extramarital affair. But the Army’s case against Sinclair crumbled in recent weeks as questions arose about whether the woman had lied in a pretrial hearing.

The defense provided a copy of the plea agreement approved and signed by a high-ranking general overseeing the case. Sinclair is expected to enter the new pleas when his court martial reconvenes Monday morning at Fort Bragg.

The married 27-year Army veteran pleaded guilty earlier this month to having improper relationships with three subordinate officers, including the female captain who accused him of assault. He also pleaded guilty to adultery, which is a crime in the military.

Under the plea deal reached over the weekend, Sinclair will also admit abusing a government credit card he used while traveling to visit his mistress.

Defense attorney Richard Scheff said that Sinclair is admitting to his mistakes but added that the general is pleading guilty to behavior that likely wouldn’t be criminal in the civilian world.

“After wasting millions of taxpayer dollars, the Army finally admitted what it’s known for many months: General Sinclair is innocent of sexual assault,” Scheff said. “Brigadier General Sinclair has admitted to mistakes that are normally a matter between husbands and wives, or employees and HR departments. It’s time to put this matter to rest.”

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