FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- An Army captain testified yesterday that her commanding general initiated a sexual affair during a combat tour in Iraq and threatened to kill her and her family if she told anyone.
The woman said Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair was extremely controlling, even telling her how much water to drink and when and where she could use the bathroom during a later combat tour in Afghanistan.
She said she repeatedly tried to end the relationship and asked Sinclair, a married man, for a transfer. On two occasions, she testified, he ended such conversations by exposing himself and physically forcing her to perform oral sex.
When a prosecutor asked whether Sinclair should have been able to tell that she did not want to participate, the captain said, "Yes, I was crying."
She testified on the second day of a military hearing at Fort Bragg on whether there is 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, one a civilian.
During the testimony, the captain often broke down in tears as she recounted their three-year relationship.
As she spoke, Sinclair repeatedly rolled his eyes, sighed audibly and stared at her. She did not look back at him.
The woman said she was honored at first by the attention from Sinclair, who she said was highly regarded. They first had sex in 2008 at a 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 captain testified that she believed Sinclair's threats to kill her because he had gone through Ranger training, knew how to kill with his hands and had a reputation as being unfazed by violence in battle.
Sinclair was deputy commander in charge of logistics and support for the 82nd Airborne in Afghanistan before being abruptly relieved in May during the criminal probe. He has been on special assignment since then at Fort Bragg.
Sinclair's former commanding officer, Maj. Gen. James Huggins, testified Monday that he began the criminal investigation on March 19 after the captain came to his office in Afghanistan in tears.
Yesterday, the captain testified that Sinclair could be cold and demeaning to female officers, calling some of them degrading and profane names. She said she once 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 he promised to leave his wife of 20 years so they could be together.
Defense lawyers worked to paint the captain as an ex-lover seeking revenge, saying Sinclair passed a polygraph test while denying he forced her to have oral sex with him.