Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair pleaded guilty to adultery and two other charges in a court martial proceeding Thursday at Fort Bragg, N.C. He still faces the most serious charge of sexually assaulting a female captain.
Sinclair, 51, a former deputy commander with the 82nd Airborne Division, admitted to an extramarital affair with the captain and “inappropriate relationships” with two other women. Adultery is considered an offense under military law. He also pleaded guilty to possessing pornography while stationed in Afghanistan, a violation of orders in the conservative Muslim country, The Associated Press reports.
The New York Times says Sinclair’s decision to plead guilty to possessing pornography “came after Army prosecutors made it clear on Wednesday that they wanted to show the military jury reams of pornography that they said General Sinclair had illegally watched in Afghanistan. It would illustrate, they said, sexual desires that led him to assault a junior officer.”
According to the AP:
“Sinclair’s lawyer Richard Scheff said before the plea that his client was taking responsibility for his actions, but also strengthening his legal position. By admitting guilt on the three charges for which there is the strongest evidence, the married father of two hoped to narrow the focus of the trial to charges that rely heavily on the testimony and credibility of his former mistress.”
Sinclair’s jury consists of five fellow generals. The Associated Press says he could be sentenced to life in prison if he’s convicted of the most serious charge of sexual assault.
“Sinclair’s attorneys had acknowledged outside of court long ago that he had committed adultery and other nonviolent offenses. They worried that exposing a jury to days of sordid testimony about his porn and relationships with other women could inflame sentiments against him and influence the more consequential sexual-assault verdict.”
“‘The prosecution team no longer gets to distract us with salacious details about acts that aren’t even criminal in the civilian world,’ Sinclair’s lawyer, Richard Scheff, said in a statement. ‘All they’re left with is a crime that never happened.'”
“Opening arguments are set for Friday at Fort Bragg, N.C. Sinclair’s fate will be decided by a jury of five Army major generals.”