FORT BRAGG, N.C. —
Sinclair's lawyer suggested he might walk out of court a free man, but without a career and perhaps with hundreds of thousands of dollars less in pension benefits. The 27-year veteran was the former commander of the 82nd Airborne.
"I hope he is permitted to retire at a reduced rank and can go home to his family," Scheff said.
The Army's case against Sinclair started to crumble as questions arose about whether his primary accuser had lied in a pre-trial hearing. It was further thrown into jeopardy last week when Judge Col. James Pohl said the military may have improperly pressed ahead with the trial to send a message about its determination to curb rape and other widespread misconduct. Under the military code of justice, the decision was supposed to be decided solely on the evidence, not its broader political implications.
A different commander accepted the plea deal over the weekend.
Sinclair's lawyers plan to use the sentencing hearing to argue that the accuser's story has changed several times and she exaggerated her anguish over the relationship and the damage it caused.
"She answers one way, then she answers another," Scheff said outside court Monday.