Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair faces possible courts-martial on charges that include forced sex, pornography, violating an order, alcohol use, engaging in inappropriate relationships, misusing a government travel charge card, and conduct unbecoming an officer. (Army)
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The wife of a one-star general facing charges of adultery and sexual misconduct has launched a public defense of her husband, acknowledging his alleged adultery but refuting the most serious charge: forcible sodomy.
In an 800-word Washington Post opinion column on Nov. 15, Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair's wife, Rebecca, linked her husband's infidelity to "the stress of war" and "the devastating influence of an open-ended war."
"This is the only time in U.S. history that our nation has fought a decade-long war with a volunteer Army," she said. "Doing so has consequences. Nothing good can come of families being chronically separated for a decade or more."
Though she said she was confident many of the charges against her husband would be dismissed, his reputation—and the reputations of generals involved in other recent high-profile scandals—would be harder to repair.
"It will take years for Jeff to shed the false image of a hard-drinking, porn-dependent aggressor," she said. "The other generals will also struggle to rehabilitate reputations they spent decades building. All of these men are human beings, with strengths and fallibilities, and they have families who are under real strain. How we address this strain will say much about what kind of country we are; it will also determine how stable and strong our military is."
Her husband of 27 years, the former deputy commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, appeared at evidentiary hearings at Fort Bragg, N.C., earlier this month. The court heard testimony from a subordinate who said Sinclair threatened to kill her if she revealed their relationship and from two subordinates who said they sent Sinclair nude photos.
The chief accuser gave testimony that Sinclair forced her to perform oral sex in an office in Afghanistan as she was crying, the basis for the forcible sodomy charge.
Rebecca Sinclair said all sexual assault should be investigated, but she said they were confident this charge would be dropped.
Echoing the arguments of her husband's defense attorneys, she cited the lengthy correspondence between her husband and his chief accuser.
"Hundreds of text messages and journal entries came to light in pretrial hearings last week that establish the affair was consensual," she said. "The woman in question admitted under oath that she never intended to have Jeff charged, and Jeff has passed a polygraph test."
Military spouses of unfaithful service members often stay silent because of their poor options for confronting such behavior, she said. Many stay silent and remain in the relationship or report the behavior, risking punishment for their spouse.
That punishment could include a reduction in rank or loss of pay and benefits.
"We are vulnerable emotionally and financially," she said. "Many stay silent out of necessity, not natural passivity."