WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina, March 17, 2014– At a Fort Brag military court the United States reached a deal with defense attorneys of U.S. Army brigadier general Jeffrey Sinclair Sunday. The United States agreed to drop charges of sexual assault and two other charges, which would have forced him to register as a sex offender, in exchange for a plea deal.
Sinclair has been charged with forcible sodomy according to allegations by a female U.S. Army captain, which could have landed the Army veteran to life in prison.
The Army captain accused Sinclair of forcing her to engage in oral sex when she tried to break off a former relationship with him. According to the accuser, Sinclair threatened to kill her if she tried to report him.
Sinclair will plead guilty to “mistreatment” of one accuser, a junior Army officer, his lawyer said.
According to the Reuters report:
Sinclair already had pleaded guilty this month to [additional] military crimes of having an adulterous affair, asking junior female officers for nude photos and possessing pornography on his laptop while deployed in Afghanistan. Those offenses carry a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and possible dismissal from the Army.
Sinclair is expected to enter his plea today. Military prosecutors are withholding comment for now.
Last week the Senate unanimously (97:0) passed a bill cracking down on how the U.S. Defense Department manages cases of sexual misconduct. It has moved to the House where it is likely to pass. The bill was sponsored by Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.)
Senator Kristin Gillibrand (D- N.Y.) attempted to push a competing bill by filibuster, which she argued went further than the one that passed. The filibuster failed.
Gillibrand’s bill would have taken the prosecution of sexual assault cases out of the chain of command and transferred it to the Judge Advocates General Corps. She argued that roughly a quarter of all sexual assault cases are perpetrated by someone in the chain of command, making reporting obviously difficult. Of the estimated 26,000 cases of unwanted sexual contact in 2012, only 3,000 were reported and 300 prosecuted.
A report from National Center for Victims of Crime validates Gillibrand’s claims. According to the report, men are more likely to experience some form of unwanted sexual contact than women. Men are also three times as likely not to specify the incident.
Not all were satisfied with the outcome of the Senate vote.“Service members deserve a professional and unbiased justice system equal the system afforded to the civilians they protect. It is a travesty that this very practical, conservative measure, supported by a substantial majority of the Senate and 60% of Americans was blocked by a procedural filibuster,” Nancy Parrish, president of Protect our Defenders, said of Gillibrand’s bill in an interview with TIME.
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