FORT BRAGG, N.C. — An Army general awaiting sentencing for inappropriate relationships with three subordinates was praised yesterday by more than a dozen defense witnesses as a smart, inspirational leader who deeply cared for his soldiers.
But prosecutors had one more reminder that Brig Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair didn’t have all his soldiers’ best interests in mind. A witness they called testified about a bawdy skit at a 2010 Army party that included dressed-up soldiers mocking the rampant rumors that the general was having an affair with a captain under his command.
Sinclair could learn his fate today as his sentencing hearing wraps up, though it’s not clear if the judge will rule immediately. Sinclair faces a maximum of 211/2 years in prison and dismissal from the Army, but he will likely face far less jail time and may not be sent behind bars at all.
The general admitted he mistreated the captain and had improper relationships with two other women. He also pleaded guilty to adultery — which is a crime in the military — as well as using his government-issued credit card to pay for improper trips to see his mistress and other conduct unbecoming an officer.
The 51-year-old general had been accused of twice forcing the female captain under his command to perform oral sex during the three-year extramarital affair, but the sexual assault charges were dropped as part of a plea deal.
Defense lawyers spent yesterday focusing on the 27-year Army career that took Sinclair from the small West Virginia town where he grew up poor to a position leading thousands as deputy commander of the 82nd Airborne. They called his brother, his ROTC commander from college, a military wife whose husband served alongside him for years and a soldier who said Sinclair was the only person who believed he had something to contribute to the Army after he hurt his back.