The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

March 17, 2014

General in sex case: Guilty plea on lesser counts

(Continued)

On Monday morning at Fort Bragg, ahead of the hearing, Scheff said he expected Sinclair to "to retire at a reduced rank and go home to his family." Scheff said he understands that the military needs to take a harder line against sexual assault but that there must be a balance: "It doesn't mean every complaint that's brought should go forward."

Prosecutors did not comment on the deal or the case before the hearing.

According to the defense, a separate agreement reached with Fort Bragg commander Maj. Gen. Clarence K.K. Chinn, who approved the plea deal, will dictate what punishments Sinclair will receive.

That part of the agreement will remain secret until after Pohl, as the judge overseeing the case, conducts the sentencing hearing. That process will include testimony from about 20 witnesses.

It was not immediately clear whether his primary accuser will be among those called to the stand.

At the hearing, Pohl will sentence Sinclair based on the evidence presented before unsealing the plea deal. Sinclair will receive whichever is the lesser punishment — the judge's sentence or the negotiated pre-sentencing agreement with prosecutors.

Capt. Cassie L. Fowler, the military lawyer assigned to represent the accuser's interests, did not respond to a message seeking comment Sunday.

In a December letter, Fowler had argued to prosecutors that dismissing the sexual assault charges against Sinclair would not only harm her client, but would set back the military's broader fight to combat sexual assault.

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Biesecker reported from Raleigh, N.C.

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Follow Biesecker at www.Twitter.com/mbieseck.

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