TODAY   |  March 17, 2014

Sex assault charges against general to be dropped

The military’s highest-profile sexual assault case will come to an end today, with the most serious charges being dropped against a brigadier general in favor of a plea deal. NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski reports.

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>> the other big story you've been following, the military's high profile case of sexual assault is going to come to an end today with some of the most serious charges being dropped in favor of a plea deal . what can you tell us?

>> that's right, natalie. a huge black mark against the entire army. and this is the first general to ever be charged with sexual assault .

>> reporter: the military's expected to drop sexual assault charges against brigadier general sinclair accused of assaulting a female captain in his command. in exchange, he'll plead guilty to lesser charges. that means sinclair will not face a number of sexual assault charges and charges of alleged death threats against his accuser. the agreement ends a 27-year military career. sinclair is accused of engaging in illegal sexual conduct even as he led the 82nd airborne division in afghanistan. the deal comes in the wake of a new pentagon report that shows a 60% increase in reported military sexual assaults last year. and the renewed congressional push for an overhaul of just how military courts handle the cases. just last week, the senate unanimously passed a wide-reaching measure authored by senators claire mccaskill and kelly ayotte .

>> you need to be held accountable.

>> but it provides less protection for military assault victims than many wanted and still may not make it through the house.

>> i think the agreement that was struck in the house, in the defense authorization bill strikes the correct balance. and so i don't, frankly, see any reason at this point for any further action to be taken.

>> now, this doesn't mean that general sinclair will get off scot-free. he's already pleaded guilty to several other charges. but the results in this case, no matter what the sentence, will clearly encourage or force some of the advocates of sexual assault victims, even the victims themselves to claim that once more the good old boy military system kicked in. and those accused are getting off scot-free. natalie?