Accuser of Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair stands by claim that he sexually assaulted her


Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair, right, left the courthouse at Fort Bragg, N.C., with lawyer Richard Scheff earlier this month. (James Robinson/AP)

The female accuser in the sex-crimes trial of an Army general is satisfied with the plea deal that was reached in the case, but she stands by her assertion that he sexually assaulted her, according to her lawyer.

Jamie Barnett, a retired Navy rear admiral who serves as an unpaid lawyer for the general’s accuser, said Monday that the accuser stands by her testimony that Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair forced her to perform oral sex on two occasions and threatened to kill her and her family if she reported their three-year affair.

As part of the plea deal, approved Monday by a military judge, the Army dropped the violence-related charges against Sinclair in exchange for his admission of guilt on several other less-serious counts. His sentence will be determined this week by a military judge at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Barnett said the accuser, an Army captain who served on Sinclair’s staff in Iraq and Afghanistan, is glad the case is nearing an end, two years after she reported the affair to Sinclair’s commanding officer in Afghanistan. Barnett said she is ready to “move on with her life” while resuming her career in the military.

At the same time, Barnett said, the captain is not backing down from her allegations of sexual assault, despite the Army’s decision to drop those charges. “She in no way is stepping away from the truth of it,” Barnett said in a phone interview. The Washington Post generally does not name alleged sex-crime victims.

Barnett’s comments marked the first time someone representing the accuser had spoken publicly on her behalf. In contrast, Sinclair’s legal defense team had mounted a vigorous public relations campaign for many months, running a Web site and a Twitter account to spread the message that he was a victim of politically motivated Army leaders intent on making an example of him.

Sinclair’s lawyers also said that the captain accused Sinclair out of jealousy after she discovered raunchy e-mails he had written to other women.

At his sentencing hearing Monday at Fort Bragg, Sinclair read a statement in which he admitted to the affair and to causing “emotional harm” to the woman under his command by breaking promises to divorce his wife and marry the captain instead.

“I failed her as a leader and as a mentor and caused harm to her emotional state,” Sinclair said as he appeared to choke up, according to an Associated Press reporter present in the courtroom.

As part of his plea deal, Sinclair admitted that he “maltreated” the captain by using his rank and authority to coerce her to keep up the affair and prevent her from breaking it off. In exchange, he avoided a conviction on sexual-assault charges that would have required him to register as a sex offender and almost certainly would have landed him in prison.

Sinclair’s accuser also briefly testified Monday. “I’m very guarded now,” she said tearfully, according to the AP. “I have a hard time trusting people. I have a very hard time feeling safe.”

Craig Whitlock covers the Pentagon and national security. He has reported for The Washington Post since 1998.
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