Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair pleaded guilty Monday to mistreating an ex-lover and other lesser charges — telling a judge that he caused the woman "emotional harm" during a three-year affair.
“I failed her as a leader and as a mentor and caused harm to her emotional state,” Sinclair said, his voice catching as he read from a statement, according to the Associated Press.
“I created a situation over time that caused her emotional harm,” the 27-year Army veteran said during his sentencing hearing at Fort Bragg, N.C.
The woman, an Army captain who served under him in Afghanistan, alleged that Sinclair twice forced her to perform oral sex and threatened to kill her and her family as a three-year adulterous affair faltered.
At the sentencing she said Sinclair hurt her emotionally and professionally.
"I'm very guarded now. I have a hard time trusting people. I have a very hard time feeling safe," she said, occasionally weeping, the AP reported.
Her mother testified that her daughter bought a 95-pound dog for protection and sleeps with a loaded gun nearby because she is scared.
Sinclair's plea came after he struck a deal to scrap sex assault counts that could have sent him to prison for life.
The 51-year-old is believed to be the highest-ranking office to go on trial for sexual assault — but the proceedings were halted amid evidence commanders improperly pressured prosecutors not to make a deal, despite questions about the accuser's credibility.
Days before his trial began last week, Sinclair pleaded guilty to several lesser counts but vowed to fight the sex assault rap.
The trial was halted in the middle of testimony after a judge found evidence of the Pentagon meddling in the case. Sinclair was then allowed to negotiate a deal with a new set of prosecutors.
First published March 17 2014, 8:31 AM