Fort Bragg, NC, United States (4E) – A former top commander of the U.S. Army in Afghanistan pleaded guilty to three lesser charges in a sexual assault case on Thursday.
Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, 51, pleaded guilty to committing adultery, possessing pornographic materials and having inappropriate relationships with other women under his command during a court-martial proceeding at a Fort Bragg courthouse.
Sinclair is maintaining innocence on five other serious charges, including sodomizing and threatening to kill a female captain and “using his rank and authority to coerce and compel” a female subordinate to maintain a sexual relationship with him.” His court-martial for the serious charges begins Friday. He faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment if convicted.
The accuser claimed that Sinclair assaulted her and made the death threat to her family during their three years of relationship.
Sinclair’s lawyer, Richard Scheff, said her testimony is weak because she had made inconsistent statements and lied under oath during a pre-trial hearing in January.
Former lead prosecutor of the case, Lt. Col. William Helixon, had urged the dropping of the most serious charges before he was removed from the case last month.
Sinclair is believed to be the most senior U.S. military officer to be charged with sexual assault. His case reinforces the problem of rape and sexual misconduct within the military that is coming to light recently.