A U.S. Army general who pleaded guilty to mistreating a junior female officer during one of several improper relationships asked a military judge Wednesday to consider is wife and young sons before deciding his fate.
Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair's admissions of wrongdoing could bring jail time, though his agreement with the government put an undisclosed cap on penalties in a case that focused attention on how the U.S. military handles sexual misconduct in its ranks.
Sinclair, 51, read a statement before Col. James Pohl to consider "the only truly innocent victims," according to WNCN reporter Brandon Herring, who is covering the court martial at Fort Bragg in North Carolina:
Sinclair buried his head in his hands when a letter from his wife was read.
In the letter, Rebecca Sinclair says she hasn't fully forgiven her husband but doesn't want the Army to punish him and his family further with a significant reduction to his pension and other benefits.
"Believe me when I tell you that the public humiliation and vilification he has endured are nothing compared to the private suffering and guilt that he lives with every day. He is racked with guilt over the pain he has caused me, my children and the Army," wrote Rebecca Sinclair.
The judge allowed the letter to be read despite prosecutors' objection to part of it.
Sinclair asked the judge to allow him to retire at reduce rank but not to punish his family by reducing his pension.
Meanwhile, military lawyers argued Wednesday that Sinclair should be dismissed from the service for the harm caused by his criminal acts.
Major Rebecca DiMuro, a special victims prosecutor, said during the government’s closing argument Wednesday that Sinclair used the power of his rank to exploit women for personal gratification, severing the trust given to him as a top officer.
“This is not honorable service,” DiMuro said. “When give the ultimate trust, he abused it.”
The hearing continues Thursday.
Earlier, male and female soldiers called as defense witnesses during the hearing described the 27-year Army veteran as an inspirational, fearless leader whom they admired despite his acknowledgment of an adulterous affair with a female captain.
"I believe that General Sinclair is a man after God's own heart," said retired Colonel James Townsend. "I believe he can be rehabilitated."