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Thread: No jail time: Sinclair reprimanded, fined $20K

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    No jail time: Sinclair reprimanded, fined $20K

    FORT BRAGG, N.C. — An Army general who carried on a three-year affair with a captain and had two other inappropriate relationships with subordinates was reprimanded and docked $20,000 in pay Thursday, avoiding jail time in one of the military's most closely watched courts-martial.

    Sinclair, the former deputy commander of the storied 82nd Airborne Division, was believed to be the highest-ranking U.S. military officer ever court-martialed on sexual assault charges, but earlier this week those charges were dropped when he pleaded guilty to inappropriate relationships with the three women.

    Sinclair smiled and hugged his two lawyers in the courtroom. Outside the building, he said "the system worked" and all he wanted to do now was "hug my wife and sons."

    As part of the plea deal, Sinclair's sentence could not exceed terms in a sealed agreement between defense lawyers and military attorneys. The agreement, unsealed Thursday, called for Sinclair to serve no more than 18 months in jail, but the judge's punishment was much lighter.

    Prosecutors did not immediately comment.

    In closing arguments, prosecutors argued Sinclair should be thrown out of the Army and lose his military benefits, while the defense said that would harm his innocent wife and children the most. The two sides also offered contrasting arguments about the seriousness of the misdeeds that felled the general.

    "It's not just one mistake. Not just one lapse in judgment. It was repeated," said prosecutor Maj. Rebecca DiMuro. "They are not mistakes. We are not in the court of criminal mistakes. These are crimes."

    The defense had called a host of character witnesses this week to laud Sinclair as a selfless leader in hopes of getting a lenient punishment.

    After both sides finished, Judge Col. James Pohl adjourned the hearing until Thursday. Sinclair's sentencing comes as the military and Congress grapple with sex crimes in the ranks.

    Prosecutors did not ask the judge to send Sinclair to jail, even though the maximum penalty he faced on the charges to which he pleaded guilty is more than 20 years.

    The judge could have dismissed Sinclair from the Army, which would have likely wiped out his Veterans Administration health care and military retirement benefits.

    The general also pleaded guilty to adultery — a crime in the military — as well as using his government-issued credit card to pay for trips to see his mistress and other conduct unbecoming an officer.

    Sinclair had been accused of twice forcing the female captain to perform oral sex during the three-year affair.

    The Army's case against Sinclair started to crumble as questions arose about his primary accuser's credibility and whether military officials improperly rejected a previous plea deal because of political concerns.

    A military lawyer representing Sinclair argued that his wife, Rebecca, had made a significant investment in the Army herself by holding leadership positions in organizations that helped soldiers' families. Maj. Sean Foster said Rebecca Sinclair and the couple's two sons would be hurt the most if the general lost benefits.

    "These three are the only truly innocent people in this case," he said.

    Sinclair broke down in tears multiple times during Wednesday's hearing.

    When a letter from his wife was read aloud, Sinclair buried his head in his hands, appeared to cry and dabbed his eyes with two tissues.

    In the letter, Rebecca Sinclair says she hasn't fully forgiven her husband but doesn't want the Army to punish him and his family further with a significant reduction to his pension and other benefits.

    "Believe me when I tell you that the public humiliation and vilification he has endured are nothing compared to the private suffering and guilt that he lives with every day," writes Rebecca Sinclair, who hasn't attended her husband's hearings.

    Jeffrey Sinclair broke down at several points as he read a statement to the judge, pausing to collect himself. He apologized to his family and the women with whom he admitted inappropriate relationships.

    "I've been frustrated and angry, but I don't have to look any further than the mirror for someone to blame," he said,
    I guess we should've expected he'd get off so easy...

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    Senior Member Class5Kayaker's Avatar
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    Re: No jail time: Sinclair reprimanded, fined $20K

    Quote Originally Posted by Rebecca Sinclair
    In the letter, Rebecca Sinclair says she hasn't fully forgiven her husband but doesn't want the Army to punish him and his family further with a significant reduction to his pension and other benefits.
    Translation = "Please Your Honor, don't reduce his retirement benefits and pension since that will affect the huge divorce settlement I'm going to get since I'm filing for divorce the day after this trial is over."

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    Re: No jail time: Sinclair reprimanded, fined $20K

    No surprise... cue the "outrage" from Congress in 3.... 2.... 1....
    When things go wrong in your command, start searching for the reason in increasingly larger concentric circles around your own desk.
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    Re: No jail time: Sinclair reprimanded, fined $20K

    I'll use this approach if I'm ever on trial:

    "I'm REALLY sorry. I mean it, too."
    "Whatever punishment you give is nothing compared to my private guilt, humiliation and suffering."

    I bet that'll work, huh?

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    Re: No jail time: Sinclair reprimanded, fined $20K

    I wonder what some dishonored TIs might think about this ruling.

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    Re: No jail time: Sinclair reprimanded, fined $20K

    Why did the prosecution go for a plea agreement? This is straight bullshit.

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    Re: No jail time: Sinclair reprimanded, fined $20K

    Quote Originally Posted by Badger View Post
    Why did the prosecution go for a plea agreement? This is straight bullshit.
    Especially dropping it from Sexual Assault to Inappropriate Relationships (unless they didn't feel they could prove the assault) with all the focus that is on the military and sexual assaults right now.

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    Senior Member efmbman's Avatar
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    Re: No jail time: Sinclair reprimanded, fined $20K

    I bet this has a lot to do with it:

    http://www.stripes.com/news/us/judge...-case-1.272177

    Just the mention of "unlawful command influence’’ sends the powers that be into damage-control mode. I bet some shady stuff was going on behind closed doors and people are scared it will leak.
    When things go wrong in your command, start searching for the reason in increasingly larger concentric circles around your own desk.
    -GEN Bruce C. Clarke

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    Re: No jail time: Sinclair reprimanded, fined $20K

    Quote Originally Posted by efmbman View Post
    I bet this has a lot to do with it:

    http://www.stripes.com/news/us/judge...-case-1.272177

    Just the mention of "unlawful command influence’’ sends the powers that be into damage-control mode. I bet some shady stuff was going on behind closed doors and people are scared it will leak.
    It's a very strange position military leaders find themselves in. They are pressured to do more about sexual assault, but if they do, they have exercised unlawful command influence on the courts martial. Happened in the USMC and to Obama. If they say, "People who commit sexual assault do not deserve to stay in the military", they have exercised unlawful command influence by suggestion what punishment a court martial should impose.

    I don't think it hints at anything shady going on behind closed doors, though. But, you have these high-profile cases and if leadership comments on them, they are screwing up the trial. Then, you might be the 3-star who has to decide whether or not to press with charges, but then not say anything...weird position I think.

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    Re: No jail time: Sinclair reprimanded, fined $20K

    Quote Originally Posted by Measure Man View Post
    It's a very strange position military leaders find themselves in. They are pressured to do more about sexual assault, but if they do, they have exercised unlawful command influence on the courts martial. Happened in the USMC and to Obama. If they say, "People who commit sexual assault do not deserve to stay in the military", they have exercised unlawful command influence by suggestion what punishment a court martial should impose.

    I don't think it hints at anything shady going on behind closed doors, though. But, you have these high-profile cases and if leadership comments on them, they are screwing up the trial. Then, you might be the 3-star who has to decide whether or not to press with charges, but then not say anything...weird position I think.
    Great point. Though I still can't help but think most others would be sitting in a jail cell right now. I guess the unlawful command influence doesn't apply to everyone.

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