Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, who served five combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan,… (U.S. Army / Associated Press )
An Army brigadier general stands accused of sexual misconduct with subordinates and a civilian, of threatening one woman’s career and her life, and of responding "I'm a general, I'll do whatever the [expletive] I want” when challenged about making demeaning comments about women, military prosecutors said Monday.
The curtain was raised in the case against Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Allen Sinclair during a special preliminary hearing at Ft. Bragg, N.C., that will decide whether he should face a court-martial.
Prosecutors publicly presented evidence against Sinclair for the first time while the defense argued that investigators had inappropriately accessed Sinclair’s emails with his attorneys.
Sinclair, a 27-year veteran, was deputy commander of the 82nd Airborne Division in Afghanistan, where he served three tours in addition to two more in Iraq.
According to the Fayetteville Observer, “Details of the charges read this morning accuse Sinclair of brazen sexual misconduct with two female captains, a major, a lieutenant and another woman at Ft. Bragg, at an Army base in Germany, in Iraq and in Afghanistan. The encounters were in a parking lot, in his office in Afghanistan with the door open, on an exposed balcony at a hotel and on a plane, where he allegedly groped a woman, the charges say. At least two of the women were members of his staff, the charges say.”
Some of the legal charges include allegations of forcible sodomy, having contraband alcohol and porn while deployed and violating orders.
According to the Associated Press, prosecutors allege that Sinclair threatened the lives of one woman and her family if she told anyone.
The details came out in an Article 32 proceeding, where military prosecutors present evidence and defense attorneys challenge witnesses to a hearing officer, Maj. Gen. Perry L. Wiggins of Ft. Hood, Texas.
The hearing is expected to last at least two days, after which point Wiggins -- acting much as a grand jury does in the civilian legal system -- will decide whether to formally refer the case to court-martial officials.
The defense has asked Wiggins to throw out the charges or to bring in new prosecutors. Defense attorney Lt. Col. Jackie Thompson said investigators had sorted through privileged emails between Sinclair and his defense team, giving the prosecution an improper advantage.
The public handling of the case has contrasted to that of the lower-ranking Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, accused of slaughtering 16 Afghan civilians. In Bales' case, officials had released information about the charges before commencing his Article 32 proceedings this week.
Ft. Bragg officials declined to provide more details to the Los Angeles Times about Sinclair’s case in September, when the charges were released but not explained.
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