Trial of U.S. Army Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair Under Way in Fort Bragg

“‘I’m so in love with him. I do know that I love him incredibly. …

I love him almost unconditionally.”

“You are my heart and world, you beautiful magnificent man.”

These are just two of the numerous written declarations of a U.S. Army Captain demonstrating the consensual nature of her three-year relationship with Army Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair, former deputy commander of the 82nd Airborne. Despite compelling diary, text message, and other documentary evidence and significant questions as to the reliability of the Captain’s story, BG Sinclair faces a rare court martial of a general officer at Fort Bragg, North Carolina for allegedly sexually assaulting the Captain and other conduct.

Leading BG Sinclair’s defense are Montgomery McCracken’s Richard Scheff, Ellen Brotman, and White Collar Alert editors Lathrop Nelson and Carrie Sarhangi, all members of Montgomery McCracken’s Government Investigations and White Collar Crime practice group.

On Thursday, March 6th, BG Sinclair pled guilty to several of the lesser charges brought against him, including adultery, engaging in an inappropriate relationship with a female officer, and conduct unbecoming of an officer, accepting responsibility – as he has since the affair first came to light – for his conduct. The presiding Army judge accepted the General’s pleas; following the entry of the guilty plea, the government, on its own motion, dismissed two other charges.

As the Associated Press reports, trial on the remaining charges got underway Friday. During her opening statement, Brotman focused on the contemporaneous written word of the accuser, whose diary reflected “the passion and excitement, the jealously and fighting, [and] the makeups and breakups” of the consensual relationship. Brotman noted that the evidence will show that the Captain never had “an iota of fear” that BG Sinclair would harm her in any way. After Brotman’s opening, the Captain took the stand. The Defense will start its cross-examination of her on Monday.

The case has garnered significant attention in the weeks leading up to the trial in light of lead Trial Counsel LTC William Helixon’s withdrawal from the case based upon his concerns with the lead accuser’s credibility and the Convening Authority’s refusal to accept the Defense’s offer to plead guilty to some of the charges. Earlier this week, the Defense litigated a motion for apparent unlawful command influence, contending that the political climate in the Army to stamp out sexual assault in the military as well as specific conduct in this case – including LTC Helixon’s withdrawal and the accuser’s invocation of political reasons to deny the Defense’s plea offer – has resulted in the appearance that BG Sinclair cannot receive a fair trial because of unlawful command influence.

White Collar Alert will provide you with the latest information as the trial proceeds.