The 51-year-old general had been accused of twice forcing the female captain under his command to perform oral sex during the three-year extramarital affair, but the sexual assault charges were dropped as part of a plea deal.
Defense lawyers spent Tuesday focusing on the 27-year Army career that took Sinclair from the small West Virginia town where he grew up poor to a position leading thousands as deputy commander of the 82nd Airborne.
They called his brother, his ROTC commander from college, a military wife whose husband served alongside him for years and a soldier who said Sinclair was the only person who believed he had something to contribute to the Army after he hurt his back.
Most had extensive praise for Sinclair, including retired Chief Warrant Officer Eric Lee, who testified by phone from Chile. He met Sinclair when both were Rangers in 1994.
Asked by Sinclair’s lawyers if he would follow the general into combat if he were deployed again, he said: “I’d be on the next plane out of the Santiago airport.”
Prosecutors countered by asking each witness if a truly inspirational and talented officer would solicit nude photos from subordinates — behavior Sinclair admitted to.
They also called two final witnesses in the morning, including Lt. Col. Benjamin Bigelow. He talked about a 2010 party in Germany that included a sexually suggestive skit involving a soldiers dressed up as Sinclair the captain who was his primary accuser.
During the skit, the character in the wig “moved in front of the Sinclair character’s crotch and offered to do something for him,” Bigelow said. “There was absolutely no question.”
Bigelow said Sinclair’s wife attended the party and was “clearly shocked, angered and dismayed.” He said the accuser was not at the party.
Sinclair’s attorney pointed out he had nothing to do with the skit and demanded an explanation and an apology.
The Army’s case against Sinclair started to crumble as questions arose about whether his primary accuser had lied in a pre-trial hearing.
It was further thrown into jeopardy last week when Judge Col. James Pohl said the military may have improperly pressed ahead with the trial to send a message about its determination to curb rape and other widespread misconduct.
Under the military code of justice, the decision was supposed to be decided solely on the evidence, not its broader political implications.