The Herald Bulletin

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March 19, 2014

Army general sex case adjourned until Thursday

FORT BRAGG, N.C. — An Army general who carried on a three-year extramarital affair with a subordinate should be thrown out of the military, prosecutors argued Wednesday, advocating for a decision that would likely wipe out his benefits.

Defense attorneys countered in their closing argument that a reduction in benefits for Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair would harm his wife and children the most.

After both sides wrapped up their arguments, Judge Col. James Pohl adjourned the hearing until Thursday morning — meaning Sinclair will have to wait at least one more day to learn his fate. Sinclair's sentencing comes as the military and Congress grapple with the problem of sex crimes in the ranks.

Prosecutor Maj. Rebecca Dimuro argued against the idea that Sinclair made an uncharacteristic mistake in an otherwise stellar career. The defense had called witnesses who lauded Sinclair as a selfless leader in hopes of getting a lenient punishment.

Dimuro used a slide show to go over decisions by Sinclair over the course of inappropriate relationships with three women under his command.

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

Sinclair faces a maximum of more than 20 years in prison and dismissal from the Army, but will likely wind up with a far less severe punishment.

The sentence can't exceed terms in a sealed agreement between defense lawyers and military attorneys. The judge will make his own decision before unsealing the document, and Sinclair will receive whichever is the more lenient punishment.

The judge could dismiss Sinclair from the Army, which would likely wipe out his health care and retirement benefits. If the judge allows Sinclair to retire from the military instead of dismissing him, Sinclair's commanding officer would decide whether to reduce Sinclair's rank — which could also cost him dearly in benefits.

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