“Gen. Sinclair has consistently taken responsibility for his mistakes and agreed to a reduction in retirement benefits,” his lawyer, Richard Scheff, said in an emailed statement. “He is a highly decorated war hero who made great sacrifices for his country, and it’s right that he be permitted to retire honorably.”
While retirement benefits are mandated by federal law, there is a requirement that an individual must have served satisfactorily in rank before receiving those benefits, McHugh said in a statement. McHugh determined that Sinclair’s actions as both a one-star general and colonel provided enough evidence to reduce his rank in retirement by two grades.
McHugh added that he was prevented by federal law from taking any further action against Sinclair, so he did what was “legally sustainable.”
The Army was unable Friday immediately to provide any estimates of how much retirement pay Sinclair might be losing as a result of McHugh’s decision.
Sinclair was convicted at a court-martial in March 2014. But his sentence of a reprimand and fine triggered outrage in Congress, as members questioned whether the Uniform Code of Military Justice should be overhauled.
“This is a sexual predator,” Speier, the California Democrat, told McHugh during a March hearing on Capitol Hill. “For a sexual predator to gain this rank and given a slap on the wrist suggests that the system doesn’t work.”
The case fueled anger about the increasing number of sexual assaults in the military and raised persistent questions about whether victims feel free to report the assaults to their commanders.
The Pentagon narrowly beat back congressional efforts to strip commanders of the authority to prosecute cases, especially those related to sexual assault, and hand the job to seasoned military lawyers.