Bummer Of The Day: Jeffrey Sinclair Trial Comes to a Disappointing Close

by Mary Rockcastle

For those of you who haven’t been following one of the largest military sexual abuse cases in recent years, here’s the low-down: General Jeffrey Sinclair seems like a real skeezeball.

Maybe you wouldn’t see the General as such a gross guy at first glance. Before this scandal broke, he was perceived as a strong leader among his armed forces peers – despite making several (documented!) unwanted advances towards women. It later emerged that Sinclair had sought explicit pictures from his female subordinates and even used profane language to describe the women below him in rank. 

But the most serious of the charges recently brought against Sinclair indicate his alleged sexual involvement with a subordinate. According to the prosecution, the married general forced the captain of his regimen to perform oral sex on him twice…and he threatened her family. This testimony was compromised during the trial when the captain admitted to having consensual sex with General Sinclair multiple times. This fact, along with the unveiling of forensic evidence that revealed she had been untruthful in a previous testimony, fogged up the case so much that the chief prosecutor, Lieutenant Colonel William Helixon, pushed to have the sexual assault charges dismissed. He quit the case when his request was denied.

Though Sinclair has admitted to “mistreating his former mistress,” today the news bomb dropped that Sinclair would receive no jail time for his actions, and he’d be allowed to keep his job. The armed forces, in fact, never even pushed for the general’s incarceration – though the crimes levied against him did carry “a potential prison term.”  Sinclair will have to forfeit $5,000 a month in pay for four months but will be allowed to keep his pension and other benefits. 

This trial seems like a real swing-and-a-miss to try and bring light to the rampant sexual misconduct in the military. “This is another sordid example of how truly broken the military justice system is,” said Representative Jackie Speier, Democrat of California. “This sentence is a mockery of military justice, a slap on the wrist nowhere close to being proportional to Sinclair’s offenses.”

It seems like yet again we’re taking one step forward and two steps back when it comes to justice in the unbelievably sexist military system. If we can get anything out of this sad verdict, we can draw attention to both the injustice it serves and the many cases of sexual misconduct still being investigated in the military. 

Photos Courtesy of Los Angeles Times and The Huffington Post

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