FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) — Defense lawyers representing an Army general facing sexual misconduct charges aimed Thursday to paint his primary accuser as a liar prone to jealousy and emotional overreactions.
The female captain at the heart of the government's case against Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair admits she carried on a 3-year sexual relationship with her married commander. Adultery is a crime under military law and the admission could end her career.
But she also testified earlier this week at an evidentiary hearing that she repeatedly tried to break off the affair with Sinclair, who she says threatened to kill her and her family if she told anyone about their frequent sexual liaisons in hotels, headquarters and war zones.
The woman admitted she typically wanted to have sex with the general, though on two occasions in Afghanistan she says he exposed himself and physically forced her to perform oral sex, even as she sobbed. The Associated Press does not publically identify victims of alleged sexual assaults.
In her closing argument, defense lawyer Maj. Elizabeth Ramsey said the accuser was a scorned lover trying to ruin the life of an outstanding warrior and patriot.
"Her lies are her fury," Ramsey said. "And these charges are Jeff Sinclair's hell."
Prosecutors presented a different version of the general's character.
"Gen. Sinclair has engaged in deliberate, degrading course of conduct where he targets his subordinates to satisfy his abhorrent desires," said Lt. Col. William Helixon, the lead prosecutor.
A 27-year Army veteran who served five combat tours, Sinclair faces a long list of charges including forcible sodomy, wrongful sexual conduct, violating orders, engaging in inappropriate relationships and adultery. The allegations involve Sinclair's conduct with five women who are not his wife, though the female captain is the only one who says he used physical force. Two female officers who had served with Sinclair testified Wednesday that had given the general nude photos at his request.
Sinclair was deputy commander in charge of logistics and support for the 82nd Airborne Division in Afghanistan before being abruptly relieved in May during the criminal probe. He has been on special assignment since then at Fort Bragg, the sprawling Army post in eastern North Carolina.
Under the military justice system, a superior officer to the accused — in this case Maj. Gen. Perry L. Wiggins — is assigned to review the evidence at an Article 32 hearing. Wiggins will then recommend to a still-higher-ranking officer — 18th Airborne Corps commander Lt. Gen. Daniel B. Allyn — whether the charges should proceed to a full court-martial. It could be weeks before a decision is made. If Allyn sends the case to trial, Sinclair faces life in prison if convicted on the most serious criminal charges.