FORT BRAGG, N.C. A former subordinate to an Army general facing sex crimes charges testified Tuesday that the general started an affair with her in Iraq and later threatened to kill her and her family if she told anyone.
The woman says she was honored at first by the attention from Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, who she said was highly regarded. They first had sex in 2008 at a forward operating base in Iraq, she said.
"I was extremely intimidated by him. Everybody in the brigade spoke about him like he was a god," she said. The Associated Press does not identify victims of alleged sexual assaults.
Now a captain, she testified on the second day of a military hearing at Fort Bragg on whether there was enough evidence to court-martial Sinclair on charges including forcible sodomy, wrongful sexual conduct and engaging in inappropriate relationships.
It is a rare criminal case against a general and the details from the hearing are the first public narrative of the alleged offenses that prosecutors say involved a total of five women: four of them military subordinates and one a civilian.
During the testimony, Sinclair repeatedly rolled his eyes, sighed audibly and stared at his former aide from the defense table. She did not look at him.
The captain testified that she believed Sinclair's threats because he had gone through special forces training, knew how to kill with his hands and had a reputation as a killer in battle.
Sinclair was deputy commander in charge of logistics and support for the 82nd Airborne Division in Afghanistan before being abruptly relieved in May amid a criminal probe. He has been on special assignment since then at Fort Bragg, the sprawling post that is home to the 82nd Airborne.
Sinclair's former commanding officer, Maj. Gen. James Huggins, testified Monday that he launched the criminal investigation that led to the charges after the female captain told him Sinclair forced her to have sex.
Huggins said that on March 19, the captain came to his office late at night in tears. She reported that she had been involved in a three-year sexual affair with Sinclair, then her direct commander and a married man. Adultery is a crime under the military code of justice.
According to Huggins, the captain said Sinclair had once forced her to perform oral sex on him, but that she also had sex willingly with her boss at Army bases in the United States and on deployments to Germany, Iraq and at the airborne division's headquarters in Afghanistan.
When she had tried to end the affair, Sinclair had threatened her and persisted in pushing for sex, according to Huggins' testimony. But she also told Huggins she finally decided to report Sinclair after finding emails exchanged with other women in his account.
The captain testified that Sinclair could be cold and demeaning to her and other women in the brigade, calling some of the other women degrading names.
She testified she told him he shouldn't talk about female officers that way.
"He said, 'He was a general and he could say whatever the (expletive) he wanted," she testified.
She said Sinclair was extremely controlling, even telling her when and where she could use the bathroom.
She described two instances where he forced her to perform oral sex. Prosecutors asked if he would have been able to determine that she did not want to participate and she responded: "Yes, I was crying."