Army General Fined And Reprimanded In Sex-Assault Case, But Gets No Jail Time
On Thursday, United States Army General Jeffrey Sinclair left his court-martial regarding sexual assault allegations significantly poorer — but free from a prison sentence, or the loss of his job. Sinclair had been court-martialed over allegations he threatened a female captain's family and forced her to perform oral sex on him, and carried on extra-marital affairs with multiple junior officers (adultery is a crime in the military.) He plead guilty to the latter but steadfastly denied the former, and the approach paid off: Despite a $20,000 fine and reprimand from the military judge, Col. James Pohl, Sinclair is now a free man.
Sinclair and his accuser had carried on a three-year relationship prior to the alleged assault — that much was openly admitted. He plead guilty to engaging in extramarital relations with multiple female junior officers, and also admitted to sometimes demanding naked photos, a grossly unethical abuse of power.
Still, this pales in comparison to what was alleged of Sinclair by the anonymous captain, who claimed that when she confronted him to end their affair, he forced her into oral sex, and threatened to kill both her and her family if she told anybody about what had gone on.
Sinclair wasn't stripped of his job, which was something prosecutors had pushed for — rather, he'll be free to leave the Army on his own terms, and is reportedly planning to file retirement paperwork soon. He was upbeat following the ruling.
The system worked. I’ve always been proud of my Army. All I want to do now is go north and hug my kids and my wife.
Jamie Barnett, the attorney for Sinclair's accuser, spoke with her following the announcement and reported that she was "obviously devastated" by the relative slap on the wrists the judge handed down, according to the Washington Post. He also alluded to the ongoing nature of the Army's sexual assault crisis.
It’s a terrible outcome, and by failing to render justice today, the Army’s going to face the reality that this could happen again. It’s really beyond disappointing. It’s a travesty for the Army and military justice in general.
While Thursday's ruling brings this case — one of the highest-profile ever to rock the U.S. Army — to a close, don't expect this issue to go away anytime soon. The U.S. military's flawed system of reporting and dealing with its sexual assault epidemic is too necessary a conversation to disappear.