In 2019, lesbian astronaut Anne McClain’s ex-wife accused her of illegally trying to access her bank account from the International Space Station. It was the world’s first “space crime” case. But now the tables have turned — McClain’s ex-wife, Summer Worden, has been arrested and charged with making the accusations up.
At the time of the “space crime” fiasco, McClain and Worden had been involved in “a bitter separation and parenting dispute for much of the past year,” per The New York Times. McClain admitted to accessing the account, but said she hadn’t been blocked from it at the time. She said she was checking on the family’s finances, as she’d always done, and hadn’t been told the account was now off-limits. “She strenuously denies that she did anything improper,” her lawyer, Rusty Hardin, told the Times back then.
The unusual nature of the case caused it to shoot to the top of headlines. It was the first time that NASA had ever had to investigate a crime in space.
Worden also effectively outed McClain as a lesbian with the accusations, as the astronaut hadn’t been public about her sexuality before then. She is now the first openly gay or lesbian active astronaut (Sally Ride’s sexuality wasn’t discovered until after her death). She could potentially be in line to be the first woman to walk on the moon.
“We’ve been going through a painful, personal separation that’s now unfortunately in the media,” McClain said at the time. “I appreciate the outpouring of support and will reserve comment until after the investigation.”
In February 2020, federal prosecutors found that Worden lied about key details in her allegations, including whether or not McClain still had access to the account and when it was first opened. Their indictment was just unsealed this week, according to the Times.
Worden now faces a federal indictment for making false statements to federal authorities. If convicted, she could face up to five years in prison for each count and up to $250,000 in fines.