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1-star charged with sex crimes appears in court

Nov. 5, 2012 - 11:58AM   |   Last Updated: Nov. 5, 2012 - 11:58AM  |  
Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair faces possible courts-martial on charges that include forced sex, pornography, violating an order, alcohol use, engaging in inappropriate relationships, misusing a government travel charge card, and conduct unbecoming an officer.
Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair faces possible courts-martial on charges that include forced sex, pornography, violating an order, alcohol use, engaging in inappropriate relationships, misusing a government travel charge card, and conduct unbecoming an officer. (Army)
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Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair is accused of maintaining inappropriate sexual relationships with at least four women, using his one-star general's rank to coerce them.

Sinclair appeared in court for an Article 32 hearing at Fort Bragg, N.C., on Monday morning as the charges against him were made public for the first time.

He was deputy commanding general in charge of logistics and support for the 82nd Airborne Division's troops in Afghanistan from July 2010 until he was sent home in May because of the allegations.

Sinclair faces possible court-martial related to charges that include forcible sodomy, wrongful sexual conduct, violating orders, engaging in inappropriate relationships, misusing a government travel charge card, and possessing pornography and alcohol while deployed.

The charges paint a picture of a commander who carried on extramarital relationships in the open, and solicited nude pictures from the women with whom he is alleged to have been involved. The women include two captains, a major and a civilian.

Prosecutors said Sinclair, 50, is alleged to have threatened one of the women, saying he would kill her and her family if she told anyone about their relationship.

The Army had kept details secret until now in the rare criminal case against a high-ranking officer. This is different from other high-profile cases in which Army prosecutors were quick to release charging documents. There have been only two other court-martial cases against Army generals in recent years.

On Monday, prosecutors alleged that Sinclair acted inappropriately between 2007 and 2012 in places including Iraq, Afghanistan and Germany, as well as Fort Bragg and Fort Hood, Texas.

At the Article 32 hearing, prosecutors are expected to present evidence against Sinclair, and his lawyers will be allowed to cross-examine witnesses against him.

Maj. Gen. Perry Wiggins, the hearing officer, recessed the proceedings until the afternoon, after Sinclair's defense attorneys argued that the prosecutors in the case had access to privileged emails between Sinclair and his attorneys, and Sinclair and his wife.

Lt. Col. Jackie Thompson said the alleged breach was a violation of military court rules and Sinclair's constitutional right to a fair trial. He asked that the government prosecutors be removed and replaced.

A source close to Sinclair's family told Army Times that Sinclair is confident in the Army's process and that he will be found innocent of the charges, particularly the most egregious of them: the forced sodomy charge.

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