By MICHAEL BIESECKER
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) --
Prosecutors have asked a judge to dismiss a general from the Army for
his inappropriate relationships with subordinates.
The sentencing hearing for Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair was expected
to wrap up Wednesday afternoon. It's not clear how long it could take
the judge to hand down the sentence.
Dismissal from the Army would wipe out Sinclair's benefits. Sinclair
has pleaded guilty to several charges including adultery -- which is a
crime in the military.
He had been accused of sexual assault, but those charges were dropped as part of the plea deal.
Defense attorneys still have to deliver their closing arguments. They
presented character witnesses who praised Sinclair on Tuesday and
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
An Army general who admitted to inappropriate relationships with
three subordinates was described as a selfless leader by fellow officers
Wednesday during testimony that the defense hopes will lead to a
Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair broke down in tears during the reading of
a letter his wife wrote and again when he read a statement to the judge
apologizing for his behavior.
Sinclair's sentencing hearing was expected to wrap up in the
afternoon after both sides deliver closing arguments. It's not clear,
though, how long it will take the judge to decide on Sinclair's
Sinclair faces a maximum of more than 20 years in prison and
dismissal from the Army, but will likely wind up with a far less severe
The sentence can't exceed terms in a sealed agreement between defense
lawyers and military attorneys. The judge will make his own decision
before unsealing the document, and Sinclair will receive whichever is
the more lenient punishment.
The general admitted he mistreated a captain under his command during
a three-year affair and had improper relationships with two other
women. He also pleaded guilty to adultery -- a crime in the military --
as well as using his government-issued credit card to pay for improper
trips to see his mistress and other conduct unbecoming an officer.
The 51-year-old general had been accused of twice forcing the female
captain to perform oral sex during the three-year affair, but the sexual
assault charges were dropped as part of the plea deal.
When the letter from his wife was read, Sinclair buried his head in
his hands, appeared to cry and dabbed his eyes with two tissues.
In the letter, Rebecca Sinclair says she hasn't fully forgiven her
husband but doesn't want the Army to punish him and his family further
with a significant reduction to his pension and other benefits. The
judge will decide whether to dismiss Sinclair from the Army or allow him
to retire at a reduced rank.
"Believe me when I tell you that the public humiliation and
vilification he has endured are nothing compared to the private
suffering and guilt that he lives with every day," writes Rebecca
Sinclair, who hasn't attended her husband's hearings.
Sinclair broke down at several points as he read a statement to the
judge, pausing to collect himself. He apologized to his family and the
women with whom he admitted inappropriate relationships.
"I've been frustrated and angry, but I don't have to look any further
than the mirror for someone to blame," he said. He also pointed out
that Wednesday was two years to the day since his primary accuser came
Defense lawyers finished calling character witnesses earlier in the day.
Col. Kenneth Kelly, who's currently based in Tokyo, served under Sinclair in Iraq and praised his leadership.
"He was selfless. He was always more concerned about what his soldiers were doing than his bosses," Kelly said.
Prosecutors have countered some of the witnesses by asking them
whether a true leader would ask subordinates for nude pictures --
behavior that Sinclair has admitted to.
Prosecutors also called a final rebuttal witness on Wednesday, Lt. Col. David Leach, who served under Sinclair in Afghanistan.
"It is extremely disappointing to me that my commander, who had
talked to me about discipline, could have engaged in this sort of
prolonged conduct," Leach said.
Asked if he would serve with Sinclair again, Leach said he would not.
Sinclair's sentencing comes as the military and Congress grapple with
the problem of sex crimes in the ranks. To better protect victims, the
U.S. Senate unanimously approved legislation last week to ban the
"good-soldier defense" to ensure that a defendant's fate is determined
solely by evidence. The House has signaled it won't take up the bill
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 sex crimes. The
decision was supposed to be decided solely on the evidence, not its
broader political implications. The judge's decision initiated new plea