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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FORT BRAGG, N.C. — Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair's former boss testified in court today that allegations against Sinclair surfaced when a subordinate came to him in tears about her three-year extramarital affair with the one-star general. Sinclair is accused of forcible sodomy and other sexual misconduct.
"She said she wanted out; she stated that she had tried, but it did not meet the intended outcome," Maj. Gen. James Huggins, the former commanding general of the 82nd Airborne, said in court. "She stated that (Brig.) Gen. Sinclair continued to persist."
Huggins said the woman, a female captain who worked for Sinclair when he was the 82nd's deputy commanding general for support, said Sinclair once forced her to perform oral sex by putting his hand on her neck. Huggins said the female officer was "fearful" and "exceptionally emotional" when she came to Huggins' office in Kandahar on March 19.
The testimony came Monday at the first day of the Article 32 hearing here on evidence against Sinclair. The charges became public for the first time since Sinclair was sent home from Afghanistan in May that the one-star carried on improper sexual relationships with at least five women, a first lieutenant, two captains, a major and a civilian.
Prosecutors said Sinclair, 50, acted inappropriately between 2007 and 2012 in places including Iraq, Afghanistan and Germany, as well as Fort Bragg and Fort Hood, Texas.
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.
According to the charges, Sinclair allegedly threatened to kill one of the women if she told anyone about their relationship.
Sinclair allegedly made derogatory comments about women, and when confronted about them, he replied, "I'm a general. I'll say what the (expletive) I want."
In court, Sinclair sometimes leaned forward, looking intently at the witness stand. At times he appeared disinterested, chewing gum and leaning back in his chair with his arm draped over the railing behind him. Sinclair rarely looked at Huggins as his former commander testified from the witness stand.
Huggins said that Sinclair had requested the female captain be assigned to his command, and Huggins was unaware of any issues until he received an anonymous letter complaining Sinclair was showing favoritism toward the captain.
When the woman came to Huggins, she told him she hoped for a long-term relationship with Sinclair, but found emails of Sinclair's indicating he was involved with other women and that he was not ending his marriage.
Huggins said he reported the woman's allegations to Lt. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, then the commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, and he consulted the chief of Army personnel and the commanding general of Army Criminal Investigation Command.
He also informed Sinclair, who was shocked when Huggins told him he would be suspended. Huggins also ordered that Sinclair have no contact with the woman or the staff of Regional Command-South.
Huggins said while the investigation progressed, he emailed Sinclair routinely as a friend and colleague, and he asked that his wife stay in contact with Sinclair's wife. "I knew that it was pretty tough on the homefront," Huggins said.
The testimony came after Maj. Gen. Perry Wiggins, who is presiding over the hearing, allowed prosecutors to proceed with their case. Defense attorney Lt. Col. Jackie Thompson had argued unsuccessfully to dismiss the charges, or have the prosecutors replaced because investigators gave them access to privileged emails between Sinclair and his attorneys.
Leona Mansapit, a special agent with Criminal Investigation Command and the case's lead investigator, testified that she had provided prosecutors with the emails. Under questioning, she admitted that she did not have a third party review and seal off Sinclair's protected emails, as required, because her investigation was not afforded the resources to do so.
"The investigators were tainted, and they tainted the prosecutors," Thompson said. "The prosecutors are tainted and they still have access to the evidence."
Prosecution staffers testified that they did not use the privileged emails, and one staffer testified that she deleted emails from a shared hard drive.
Lt. Col. Will Helixon, the lead prosecutor, argued Wiggins did not have the authority to remove the prosecution team and that the mere existence of the emails did not prove the prosecution team had used them.
"The defense has failed to establish a modicum of evidence that would justify this extreme measure," Helixon said.