RALEIGH, N.C. – A U.S. Army general accused of sexually assaulting a junior officer will admit guilt on three lesser charges but maintains his innocence on allegations that he forced her to perform oral sex, his lawyer said Wednesday night.
Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair is set to enter the plea today before opening statements are scheduled for his court-martial at Fort Bragg. The primary accuser in the case is a female captain who claims Sinclair twice ended arguments about their relationship by unzipping his pants and forcing her head into his lap.
The woman says her commander threatened to kill her family if she told anyone about their three-year affair, which continued after the alleged assaults.
Sinclair’s lawyer Richard Scheff said the general will plead guilty to having improper relationships with two other female Army officers and to committing adultery with his mistress, which is a crime in the military. He will also admit violating orders by possessing pornography in Afghanistan and to conduct unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman.
Sinclair, the former deputy commander of the 82nd Airborne, faces life in prison if convicted of the remaining sexual assault charges.
Scheff said in an interview that his client is taking responsibility for his actions, but also strengthening his legal position headed into trial. The general had previously entered pleas of not guilty to all eight charges.
By admitting guilt on the three charges for which there is the strongest evidence, the married father of two narrows the focus of the upcoming trial to charges that rely heavily on the testimony and credibility of his former mistress.
The case against Sinclair, believed to be the most senior member of the U.S. military ever to face trial on sexual assault charges, comes as the Pentagon grapples with a troubling string of revelations involving rape and sexual misconduct within the ranks.