Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair, left, leaves a Fort Bragg, N.C., courthouse with a member of his defense team, Maj. Elizabeth Ramsey, on Jan. 22 after he deferred entering a plea at his arraignment. (Andrew Craft / The Fayetteville Observer via AP)
- Filed Under
Sinclair defers plea
Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair had an arraignment hearing Tuesday at the Army's Fort Bragg, where he had the opportunity to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. He deferred, and the hearing continued with a defense motion to disqualify prosecutors over emails that were erroneously sent to them.
The military judge, Army Col. James Pohl, has set the trial portion of the court-martial for May 13. He did not immediately rule on the defense motion to disqualify the prosecuting attorneys. — AP
Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, the Fort Bragg, N.C., senior officer recalled from Afghanistan to face sexual assault and other charges, has created a website to argue his innocence and counter what he claims is an Army PR campaign to malign — and convict — him.
"If you have followed the case in the press, you have likely read sensational headlines that allege ‘Forced Sodomy,' ‘Liquor and Pornography in a Combat Zone,' and ‘Multiple Victims.' The Army's PR campaign is designed to make the case sound as bad as possible."
Sinclair and his attorneys have retained New York-based public relations firm MWW to provide media relations and communications strategy support. His wife, Rebecca Sinclair, has appeared on CBS "This Morning," wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post and provided several interviews for print newspapers, including Army Times.
The website's launch Tuesday morning came as Sinclair was arraigned in a Fort Bragg courtroom. He deferred entering a plea to charges that include forcible sodomy and other alleged misconduct committed while furthering an affair with his lead accuser. He also faces charges he engaged in inappropriate relationships with four other women and charges he possessed alcohol and pornography in the war zone.
Sinclair's public relations team also goes on the offensive to undermine the accuser, who alleges he twice forced her to perform oral sex. The website contains journal entries, text messages and a transcript from her testimony at legal proceedings in November, which "establish the consensual nature of their affair."
The strategy echoes efforts by Sinclair's defense to discredit the woman during the November proceeding.
At that hearing, Sinclair's lawyer tried to paint the female captain as a liar and a scorned lover who was trying to ruin Sinclair's life and military reputation. They characterized her as a manipulative "back-stabber" who blamed others for her mistakes.
Prosecutors presented testimony about Sinclair's conduct with five women who were not his wife, including officers who served under his direct command. The charges involve activities when he was in Afghanistan, Iraq, Germany and at bases in the United States.
Sinclair was deputy commander in charge of logistics and support for the 82nd Airborne Division in Afghanistan before being relieved in May during the criminal probe. He has been on special assignment since then at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.
The female captain at the heart of the case said she carried on a 3-year sexual relationship with Sinclair, who is married with children. Adultery is a crime under military law, and her admission could end her career.
Beyond his accuser, Sinclair's public relations team also takes aim at the Army's chief prosecutor in the case, Lt. Col. Will Helixon, posting a Texas State District Court's reprimand of Helixon and accusing the prosecution team of "illegal and unethical conduct" in violating Sinclair's right to attorney-client privilege.
Sinclair's defense attorneys have argued that Sinclair's rights were violated when the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate accessed thousands of pages of emails between Sinclair and his defense attorneys, his wife and his pastor.
"This massive violation of privilege may disqualify the entire prosecution team and could leave Helixon vulnerable to further disciplinary action from the Texas state courts," Sinclair's team writes.
At the evidentiary hearings, prosecutors said they never viewed information in the emails marked "client-attorney privilege" when they obtained reams of military and personal emails from investigators.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.