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“By failing to render justice today, the Army and our Armed Forces have to face the reality that this could happen again, and next time, there will be less of a reason for the victims to come forward”


On March 20, 2014, multiple publications across the country featured Venable partner and retired Navy Rear Admiral Jamie Barnett’s reaction to the sentencing of Army Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair in a sexual assault court martial. Earlier this week as part of a plea deal, General Sinclair agreed to plead guilty to a series of lesser charges in exchange for the Army dropping the more serious violence related charges. At Thursday’s sentencing, Gen. Sinclair was given a formal reprimand and ordered to forfeit $20,000 in pay over the course of four months.

Admiral Barnett, who represented an Army captain who accused the General of sexual assault, expressed strong disappointment in the sentence saying in a statement, “Today’s sentencing is beyond disappointing, it is a travesty and a serious misstep for the Army. A general who pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice, criminal cruelty and maltreatment towards subordinates, improper relationships with three women under his command and the possession of pornography gets off with a fine and letter of reprimand in his service record. The slap on the wrist and “pat on the back” for being a so-called “good solider” points to the importance of Congressional action… By failing to render justice today, the Army and our Armed Forces have to face the reality that this could happen again, and next time, there will be less of a reason for the victims to come forward.”

Admiral Barnett’s reaction was featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today, Reuters, two Los Angeles Times articles, CNN, Fayetteville Observer, Christian Science Monitor, and the Associated Press which picked up by multiple news organizations across the country. In an interview with CBS News, Admiral Barnett said General Sinclair “admitted guilt to fourteen crimes but he’s not really being punished for it, so there’s no real justice for this young captain.” He added that the outcome could have a “chilling effect” on other sexual assault victims coming forward adding this his client is devastated and wonders if it was worth it.

Despite the disappointing outcome, Admiral Barnett did point to a bright spot, saying the Army captain he represented “was transferred and placed under an outstanding command at Fort Huachuca. Her current superiors and mentors encouraged and supported her throughout the many difficult challenges of the past two years. The Army has established a Special Victims’ Counsel program and appointed a Special Victims Counsel who did an outstanding job.”

In addition to Admiral Barnett, partner Becky Pearson, a former Air Force Judge Advocate, provided counsel along with Army Captain Cassie Fowler of the Army’s Special Victims Counsel program.