Jeffrey Sinclair, a U.S. Army general from the celebrated 82nd Airborne Division, will reportedly plead guilty to less serious offenses as his headline-grabbing sexual assault case hurtles toward a sentencing hearing.
Sinclair's ongoing saga, which has lasted nearly two years now, has been a lightning rod for controversy. The trial was halted earlier this month after evidence of political pressure from the Pentagon compelled the judge to dismiss the jury—consisting of five major generals—and allow the sides to attempt to reach a plea bargain.
This was hardly the only moment of confusion in a case that also involved a declaration by the prosecution that its chief witness (the general's mistress) had lied under oath and the abrupt resignation of the lead prosecutor last year. It now seems possible that Sinclair's case could be settled in the coming days.
Earlier this month, Sinclair pleaded guilty to a range of smaller breaches of military law including adultery and possession of pornography in a combat theater as well as requesting dates and explicit photographs from female soldiers. The forthcoming guilty pleas are also for lesser charges:
The new guilty pleas expected to be entered Monday include disobeying a commander’s order not to contact his mistress, using demeaning language to refer to female officers and using a curse word when confronted about that conduct, and misusing his government travel charge card.
Meanwhile, the biggest and most grisly charge—forcible sodomy—remains unaddressed; the sexual assault accusations would be dismissed in exchange for the guilty pleas. It is unclear whether Sinclair will face prison time as the defense and prosecution lay out their arguments in the days ahead. Sinclair is thought to be the highest-ranking military member ever to be tried for sexual assault.