An Army brigadier general is facing allegations of sexual misconduct for his behavior while overseas, including the military charge of forcible sodomy, the 18th Airborne Corps announced Wednesday.
The military would not elaborate publicly on the nature of the allegations, but defense officials speaking to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity said the officer, identified as Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, is accused of having inappropriate relationships with several female subordinates.
Sinclair, who served five combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, faces possible courts martial on charges that include forced sex, wrongful sexual conduct, violating an order, possessing pornography and alcohol while deployed, and misusing a government travel charge card and filing fraudulent claims.
Before Sinclair faces a trial or court martial, the military will conduct what's known as an Article 32 hearing to determine whether there is enough evidence to proceed.
No date has been set for the public hearing.
Sinclair was sent back early from a deployment in Afghanistan where he served as the deputy commander of the 82nd Airborne Division headquarters.
"Brig Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair has been charged with multiple violations of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice," Col. Kevin Arata said during a news conference at Fort Bragg, N.C., but he declined to get into the specifics of the charges, saying “it would be inappropriate to comment any further at this time."
The term “forcible sodomy" refers to a few sexual acts. According to military lawyers, sodomy is defined as contact between a sex organ and any part of another person’s body.
"It's a fall back charge," said a military lawyer who asked to remain anonymous and is unfamiliar with the specifics in Sinclair’s case.
He also said for cases in which rape would be difficult to prove lawyers often opt for the "forcible sodomy" charge.
The lawyer cited a hypothetical case of forced oral sex in which forcible sodomy would be easier to prove than rape or sexual assault because there is less evidence the accused forced himself on someone.
Sinclair began his Army career in 1985 when commissioned as an infantry officer from the Reserve Officer Training Corps. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science from West Virginia University, a master’s from Central Michigan University and a master’s in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College.
Sinclair has been deployed to combat in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Afghanistan and has won numerous awards and decorations including the Bronze Star Medal.
He served as deputy commander in charge of logistics and support for the 82nd Airborne Division in Afghanistan, was sent home in May because of the allegations, the AP's sources said. Since he returned to the U.S., Sinclair has been assigned as a special assistant to the commanding general of 18th Airborne Corps. Often when general officers are under investigation they are temporarily assigned as special assistants to more senior officers or commanders.
Sinclair had arrived in Afghanistan for his deployment in September 2011, but had been serving as the division's deputy commander since July 2010.
Sinclair, a trained paratrooper who has been in the Army for 27 years, was serving his third deployment to Afghanistan. He had also served two tours in Iraq, as well as a tour in the first Gulf war.
It's rare for an Army general to face court martial. There have been only two cases in recent years.
Fox News' Justin Fishel and The Associated Press contributed to this report.