As regular TAH readers know, I’ve been periodically writing about the case of BG Jeffery Sinclair, US Army, who is currently facing courts-martial for a number of very serious charges. Jonn vectored me to a couple of links he got from another TAH reader, AndyFMF. The links are from a website that someone – my guess would be Sinclair’s legal team – has come up with a website touting Sinclair’s innocence.
I took a look at the website. I’ll hit the high points and give my impressions below. Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer – just an educated layman with some knowledge of and interest in the law. Comments/corrections from qualified lawyers, particularly from our military JAG readers, are solicited and welcome.
- The site can be found here.
- The site appears to be essentially a PR exercise aimed at generating sympathy for Sinclair. Predictably, it attacks Sinclair’s accuser, his prosecutor, and the evidence against him. It also touts Sinclair’s history and bio.
- It does not divulge the name of Sinclair’s accuser.
- It points out some legitimate weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. Some of the evidence for some of the charges indeed appears weak. Other evidence presented at Sinclair’s Article 32 hearing resulted in some of the original accusations being dropped.
- However, IMO in at least one other area the prosecution team may have really stepped on its collective schvantz. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a new prosecution team take over the case prior to trial.
- That said, some of the “shortcomings” the site points out are, bluntly, BS. In particular, they make much of the fact that Sinclair “passed a polygraph” and that his accuser has not taken one. JAGs out there correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure that polygraph results are not admissible in courts-martial proceedings as evidence. There are numerous known instances of a liar “beating” a polygraph.
- The site also makes much of the fact that multiple people had access to Sinclair’s computer, where evidence was found that pornographic images had been accessed – in some cases, when Sinclair was known to be absent. While that is indeed true, charges relating to specific instances where porn was accessed during a time Sinclair was shown to have been absent apparently were later dropped. And I’d like to think that the Army actually had the sense to have a good computer forensic tech (the Army indeed has some very good ones) look at the machine in question prior to the Article 32 hearing.
- The site admits that Sinclair had a consensual extramarital affair with a subordinate as well as use “bad judgment” in exchanging “inappropriate” text messages (presumably racy ones) with four other women – who were apparently also Sinclair’s subordinates. That admission alone is enough to end Sinclair’s career.
- While the “forcible sodomy” charge against Sinclair may sound weak as his PR site presents it, that charge is likely legally much stronger than Sinclair’s site would lead one to believe. Past instances of Army Drill Sergeants engaging in consensual sex with trainees have been successfully prosecuted as rape. This was apparently due to the extreme difference in rank under the theory that the extreme difference in rank and position effectively constituted coercion. I’m guessing a BG hitting on a junior officer (e.g., a LT or CPT) might well be considered just as coercive a situation as a Drill Sergeant hitting on a trainee.
Bottom line: the site strikes me as primarily a blatant and rather transparent PR effort, designed to garner sympathy for Sinclair among members of the public. Even if Sinclair is innocent, I personally find such a public PR effort distasteful and beneath what I’d expect from a military GO. YMMV regarding both the site and how distasteful you find it.
Sinclair at this point has to know his career is over. He’s now simply fighting to stay out of jail and keep his pension. I’d guess he probably doesn’t much care about appearances and decorum.
TSO Adds: Um, this is interesting reading…. (Click twice so you can read it.)