FORT BRAGG, N.C. — Lawyers for an Army general who admitted to emotionally harming a subordinate during a three-year affair will argue Tuesday that he shouldn't face jail time for a crime for which civilians wouldn't be prosecuted.
A judge on Monday accepted a plea deal in the high-profile case, which came as the military faced pressure to address revelations of sexual misconduct in the ranks. The deal dropped the sexual assault charges against Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair in exchange for his admission to other, lesser violations of military law.
Seeking a lenient sentence, his lawyers are downplaying the seriousness of those charges and calling witnesses to discuss the character of the former deputy commander of the 82nd Airborne.
The sentencing began Monday with prosecutors calling the accuser and her mother to discuss damage caused to her personal and professional life by her interactions with Sinclair. Prosecutors told the judge they have a few more witnesses to talk about how Sinclair's behavior hurt the three subordinates with whom he admitted to having inappropriate relationships.
Then Sinclair's lawyers are expected to call about 20 witnesses, including commanders who Sinclair served under and soldiers he led. Sinclair himself will give a statement and may testify, defense attorney Richard Scheff said.
The captain who's his primary accuser took the stand Monday and said she can't trust anyone and fears her superiors will take advantage of her. She said that as their relationship soured, she fell into despair so deep that she threatened to kill herself so the general would listen to her.
The Associated Press generally does not identify those who say they were victims of sexual assault.
"I'm very guarded now. I have a hard time trusting people. I have a very hard time feeling safe," said the woman, who cried during testimony and occasionally dabbed her eyes with a tissue between questions.