Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Friday, March 21, 2014

Remorse, of Course

"The system worked. I've always been proud of my army. All I want to do now is go north and hug my kids and my wife."
"I ask that you permit me to retire at a reduced rank and not punish my family by depriving them of the benefits they have earned serving alongside me all these years."
"I have squandered a fortune of life's blessings, blessings of family, work and friendship. I put myself and the army in this position with my selfish, self-destructive and hurtful acts."
Brigadier-General Jeffrey Sinclair
Jeffrey Sinclair
FILE - In this March 4, 2014, file photo, Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair leaves the courthouse following a day of motions at Fort Bragg, N.C.  (AP Photo/The Fayetteville Observer, James Robinson, File)

"Your misconduct is supposed to come when you are young and you're stupid right? The army is used to that. That's not what happened here. This officer took his rank, his authority, his skill, his training, and the utter and complete confidence the army placed in him, and he used it to harm junior officers."
Major Rebecca DiMuro, army special victim prosecutor

"I can't believe it. I know John Pohl to be one of the best judges in the army judicial system, but ... this is an individual who should not be a general officer. He should have gone to jail and dismissed from the army."
Retired Lieutenant-Colonel Gary D. Solis teaching law at West Point and Georgetown University
From his position of command and power, 51-year-old Brig.-Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, former deputy commander of the United States 82nd Airborne Division, preyed on subordinates. Forcing women to obey his commands, having nothing whatever to do with their professional status as members of the American Armed Forces, and everything to do with his sexual drive to see women under his command as possibly his own very selective harem.

He spoke of his "selfish, self-destructive and hurtful acts", and this descriptive was solely self-identifying. Self-destructive, rather than destructive of other peoples' right to respect, privacy, self-esteem and sovereign determination of their own bodies in their own defence, which he, with his authority and his demands, wrenched violently from them.

There was, primarily, a three-year 'affair' with a captain under his command, an affair that was forced upon the captain, with oppressive demands and violent threats should she ever feel strong enough to defy him and to divulge the misery he had thrust upon her. And there were two additional, more 'casual' predations where again he misused his command to defile a relationship with women over whom he had professional authority.

The system worked indeed, but in his favour, not theirs, seeking retribution in an acknowledgment of their suffering. His sentence seems inappropriate and insufficient to the actions he forced upon those women. Reprimand and $20,000 in pay docked. This man was the highest-ranking American military officer to face court martial on sexual assault charges. But when he pleaded guilty to 'inappropriate relationships' with the three women, those charges were dropped.

At a time when violence against women in the military, and an epidemic of rape has become a matter of huge public concern, one shared by the Pentagon brass, one of their own, performing degrading acts on women made helpless to defy him, has been demonstrated to rate a fairly perfunctory punishment. His reputation, needless to say, will have suffered, but to what extent can be questioned given the prevailing attitudes of power and victimhood.

The 34-year-old female captain he forced oral sex upon, his threats to kill her and her family should she seek to reveal their liaisons, none of this deemed of sufficient criminality to send him to prison? It was her determination to seek justice in coming forward to reveal the indignities and violence she suffered that brought charges of sexual assault against the man.

The presiding judge offered no explanation for his choice of sentence. Brig.-Gen. Sinclair's next move will be to stand before Major-General Clarence Chinn, Fort Bragg commander who approved the plea arrangement. He will receive a verbal or a written reprimand.

And finally, a board will determine whether he will lose rank, before retiring from the military, a punishment that might end up costing him hundreds of thousands in retirement benefits.

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