The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

March 17, 2014

Defense: General's deal drops sex assault charge

(Continued)

The former deputy commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, Sinclair is believed to be the highest-ranking U.S. military officer to ever face court martial on sexual assault charges.

A spokesman for Fort Bragg commander Maj. Gen. Clarence K.K. Chinn, who approved Sinclair's plea deal, could not be reached for comment Sunday.

According to the defense, a separate agreement reached with Chinn 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. The Associated Press generally does not name those who say they were victims of sexual assault.

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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