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In the eight months surrounding the time prosecutors claim Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair forced a female captain to perform oral sex on him, the couple carried out their affair while trading hundreds of text messages, many of them sexually explicit.
"Is my sexy baby sleeping?" wrote Sinclair, now accused of sexual misconduct with four other subordinates.
"Your panda is in main missing pappa panda sexy pants," she replies, as part of the Sept. 4, 2011, exchange.
As Sinclair was being arraigned Jan. 22 on a variety of charges, most of them related to the affair, a private public relations team representing Sinclair launched a website countering the prosecution's claims and echoing the defense strategy aimed at undermining the accuser. The accuser was a junior officer and Sinclair was her commander, the deputy commander of the 82nd Airborne Division.
Defense attorneys see the blend of romantic and angry text messages as proof that Sinclair's accuser was a willing participant in their sexual activity who became vindictive when Sinclair grew distant. But prosecutors argue that, in spite of the consensual nature of the affair, there were two instances of sodomy that were nonconsensual.
The heart of the website's defense is the accuser's side of the text message exchanges. The site also contains her journal entries and excerpts of her courtroom testimony. (A spokesman for the PR team provided Army Times with both sides of their exchanges.)
The website is designed to debunk the Army's case against Sinclair, claiming the charges have been inflated as part of the Army's deliberate misinformation campaign against him. The site also aims to discredit the female accuser, painting her as "distraught" and "isolated" and attacks the prosecutor in the case.
The female captain could not be reached for comment.
Although the typo-ridden text messages are clearly indicative of a consensual sexual relationship at first, a stormy series of text messages at the end suggest something more complicated. In March 2012, shortly before Sinclair's accuser reported their affair, she told him she felt suicidal and manipulated by him.
"Please just stop [expletive] pretending that you care at all and just be honest with me," she writes. "yoy are a selfish [expletive] that cares only about you and your family and yoy dont give a [expletive] about how you have emotionally destroyed me, you plan on using me until you can move on as if nothing happened because I mean nothing to you, just be honest and say what your actions are telling me and that is that I'm nithing to you but youe [expletive] whore."
Sinclair, a married father of two, 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, N.C. The woman, who Army Times is not identifying, was an unmarried aide.
At Sinclair's arraignment at Fort Bragg, he deferred entering a plea to charges that include forcible sodomy and other alleged misconduct committed while furthering an affair with the female captain. He also faces charges he engaged in inappropriate relationships with four other women — soliciting nude photos from two of them — and charges he possessed alcohol and pornography in the war zone.
Prosecutors have presented testimony about Sinclair's conduct with the 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 U.S.
The female captain at the heart of the case said she carried on a three-year sexual relationship with Sinclair. Adultery is a crime under military law, and her admission could end her career.
The defense has cast her as scorned lover trying to ruin the life of an outstanding warrior and patriot.
In a database labeled as evidence in the ongoing court case against Sinclair, there is a stream of nearly 400 text messages.
Although most sexual assault cases rely heavily on testimony and physical evidence, prosecutors have offered no physical evidence in this case, and the female captain has testified at evidentiary hearings in November that their relationship was an emotional roller coaster for her.
She has also said amid hours of testimony that Sinclair threatened to kill her if she revealed their relationship. She said he was extremely controlling, even telling her how much water to drink and when and where she could use the bathroom during a combat tour in Afghanistan.
She said she repeatedly tried to end the relationship and, while both were stationed in Afghanistan, she asked Sinclair for a transfer.
On two occasions, she testified the general ended such conversations by exposing himself and physically forcing her to perform oral sex. She testified that Sinclair should have known she was unwilling because she was crying.
She testified that the two first had sex in 2008 at a forward operating base in Iraq, but the relationship eventually went sour. She said she reported the affair to Sinclair's former commanding officer, Maj. Gen. James Huggins, in March 2012, when she suspected Sinclair of sleeping with another woman.
The text messages in evidence (and those provided to Army Times) span the latter half of the affair, from September 2011 to March 2012. They also coincide with their deployment to Afghanistan, although Sinclair returned home for several weeks in the midst of it to undergo back surgery.
In an exchange after Sinclair meets the captain's parents, ostensibly at a pre-deployment ceremony, she sends him messages expressing joy.
"You make me happy!" she writes.
"I am going to trash you......fair warning," he replies. "watching you standing there so smitten with your parents drove me nuts......god i wanted to chew you up."
Although he is codenamed "Nathan Lancaster" in her phone, she calls him Mr. Sexypants, and he calls her Panda. Amid the sexual overtures are mutual expressions of love and tenderness, and the two discuss their mundane daily work, travel and family activities.
"You control my life and my happiness," he writes. "i am blessed to have met you and to have you. life is full of searching looking for a real connection. i want to take a month and drive cross country with you. just days of looking at the cool things in our country.....meeting other couples....loving you every night. this is my dream
"Oh [expletive] that is so [expletive] hot and would absolutely be a dream come true," she replies.
The two arrange the details of their assignations. On Sept. 6, 2011, before the deployment, she writes: "Oh Sweetheart,i just remembered, you wil not be able to park in the garage, it is full with all of my lawn furniture!"
At 5:45 a.m., before his visit, she texts "Okay ready."
At 9:05 a.m., apparently after leaving, he writes, "Love you........relax."
Hours later, she writes to him: "god you were so perfect this morning, just this perfect amount of loving, [expletive], kissing, caressing and laying peacefully with that magnificent body pressed against mine."
And while the stream of text messages begins affectionately, they are less frequent after September 2011, perhaps owing to their proximity to one another in Afghanistan.
A tempestuous series of texts comes March 5, 2012.
After complaining that Sinclair is not answering her calls, the female captain appears to threaten to report the affair to Huggins and alludes to having suicidal thoughts. Although she does not say so explicitly, according to her testimony, she suspected Sinclair of having sex with another woman.
"Okay you want to keep [expletive] screwing me over and not giving a [expletive] about me how about I just [expletive] call hu ggins and have him resolve this, Im sure he will take the time to keep me from being suicidal. I well not let yoy continue to screw me over."
Sinclair, who was home from the war zone for back surgery, alternately attempts to soothe her, takes umbrage — suggesting she is attempting to break up his family — and insists she come visit him.
"Is that how you feel? You want to attack me and my boys? I have done nothing but love you," he writes. "I have never slept with my wife since we met."
In an emotional stream of texts, she refers to herself as desperate, hysterical, "not healthy and not stable."
In the end, he urges her to toughen up.
"You and I have rough roads but your imagination of my love life is [expletive]," he writes. "Stop feeling sorry for yourself. I know you hav e some medical stuff. Get over it.....I do too and I'm an Alpha male. Step to the plate with me and get a little harder."
She lashes out at him days later, accusing him of abandoning her.
"yoy are the worst person ever and I swear to god you care nothing about me other then having me in the side line to suck your [expletive], you are so cruelsna heart less," she writes.
He writes that he tried to help her, but she would not let him.
"I didn't call because I don't want to be attcked anymore," he replies. "I am a walking zombie. I'm trying to get back to you and you are just caustic as hell. You r not Helping me you are just hurting me and living in a crazy world of your own."
Over the next two days, the texts do not betray any of the earlier acrimony. In their final exchange, she writes from aboard a plane as it is about to take off: "We are getting ready to fly sweetheart, loooooove you, get better please," she writes. "All right well I guess this is the last time we will talk, love you
"Will call you baby....safe trip. Love you."
He replies, "Will call you baby....safe trip. Love you."
As Sinclair was being arraigned in a Fort Bragg courtroom, his team from the New York public relations firm MWW went live with www.sinclairinnocence.com. The site presents Sinclair's official biography and photos of him at work in Afghanistan, and strikes back at his accuser and the prosecutor in the case, Lt. Col. Will Helixon.
"If you have read the news coverage surrounding Brigadier General Jeff Sinclair, you likely believe the worst. Army prosecutors have carefully managed a public relations campaign to try and convict General Sinclair in the public sphere, before he even has his day in court," it reads. "But in America, individuals are presumed innocent until proven guilty."
Sinclair's wife, Rebecca Sinclair, meanwhile, has appeared on CBS "This Morning," wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post and provided several interviews for print newspapers, including Army Times.
A spokesman for MWW said the firm built the site "on behalf of a group of Sinclair's friends and supporters," but without the input of Sinclair or his military attorneys.
MWW's plan is to update the site with breaking news and evidence from the case, and to extend its campaign into social media.
The Sinclair website was modeled after several sites established by supporters of Amanda Knox, an American student in Italy charged with murder in 2007 and ultimately exonerated, the MWW spokesman said.
"The nature of this case is unusual: It's a very public case, and yet the military attorneys are strictly governed in their ability to engage in a public defense," the MWW spokesman said of Sinclair. "That's why friends and supporters believe that it is imperative to build awareness."
Beyond his accuser, Sinclair's website also accuses the prosecution team of "illegal and unethical conduct" in violating Sinclair's right to attorney-client privilege.
Sinclair's defense attorneys have argued in court 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.
A military judge has yet to decide the issue.