The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

March 7, 2014

Opening statements begin in general's sex trial

(Continued)

Repeatedly, Sinclair turned to his lawyer before answering, prompting the judge to say: "It's important that you tell me the truth as you recall it."

"You'll get nothing but the truth from me," the general replied.

The general pleaded guilty to having improper relationships with two female Army officers and to committing adultery with a third, the captain who was his longtime mistress. Adultery is a crime in the military.

When asked by the judge if he was aware of the prohibition against senior officers having relations with subordinates, Sinclair replied, "Oh, yes sir."

He then described how the affair began during a war tour in Iraq when his primary accuser asked if he wanted to watch a movie. Once they were alone in his quarters, the general said the young officer made sexual advances that he initially rebuffed.

Pohl asked how Sinclair knew the woman wanted to have sex with him.

"Probably when she took her top off, sir," the general said with a nervous chuckle.

Sinclair's wife of nearly 30 years has remained with him through his legal troubles and served as a staunch public defender, though she was not in the courtroom Thursday. The couple has two children.

The general also admitted to violating orders by possessing pornography and to conduct unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman. After he knew he was under investigation, Sinclair also admitted deleting nude photos from a personal email account sent by a civilian woman with whom he was childhood friends.

Sinclair's lawyer Richard Scheff said by admitting guilt on the charges for which there is the strongest evidence, the married father of two hoped to narrow the focus of the trial to charges that rely heavily on the testimony and credibility of his former mistress.

In pleading guilty to possessing a cache of porn on his laptop in Afghanistan, a violation of orders for soldiers in the socially conservative Muslim country, Sinclair's defense hopes to limit the ability of prosecutors to use those graphic images to shock the jury. The jury is made up of five generals because in a court-martial an officer can only be judged by his superiors.

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