US Army general escapes dismissal in sexual misconduct case

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 March, 2014, 1:16am
UPDATED : Friday, 21 March, 2014, 1:16am

A US Army general who carried out a three-year affair with a captain and had two other inappropriate relationships with subordinates was reprimanded and docked US$20,000 pay yesterday.

Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair avoided jail time or dismissal from the army for military crimes that were aired in a rare court martial of a top officer.

Sinclair, the former deputy commander of the storied 82nd Airborne Division, was set to be the highest-ranking US military officer ever court martialled on sex assault charges.

But earlier this week, those charges were dropped when he pleaded guilty to inappropriate relationships with the three women. Sinclair smiled and hugged his two lawyers in the courtroom. Outside the building, he said: "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."

The case unfolded with the Pentagon under heavy pressure to confront what it has called an epidemic of rape and other sexual misconduct in the ranks.

Prosecutors did not immediately comment. Captain Cassie Fowler, the military lawyer assigned to represent the accuser's interests, had a grim expression after the sentence was imposed and declined to comment.

In closing arguments, prosecutors argued Sinclair should be thrown out of the army and lose his military benefits.

But the defence argued that would harm his innocent wife and children the most.

Defence attorney Richard Scheff said Sinclair would retire from the military.