Summer Worden outed her then-estranged wife, astronaut Anne McClain, when she accused her of illegally attempting to access her bank account from the International Space Station last year. It was dubbed the “first space crime” by the media.
But in a surprising turn of events, Worden has now been indicted and charged with making the whole thing up.
The women were involved in a bitter divorce and custody dispute when Worden made the allegation. Claiming McClain had accessed her account from a NASA computer terminal, Worden filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and NASA’s Office of Inspector General.
After an investigation, federal prosecutors allege that Worden lied about key details about when the account was opened and whether or not McClain had access to the account still.
McClain admitted that she had accessed the account from space but said she was checking on the family finances and had never been told it was off-limits. Worden claimed that McClain had “attempted” to access the account, but the astronaut hadn’t been blocked from the account at the time.
“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.”
Worden is charged with lying to federal investigators. If convicted, she faces up to five years in prison on each count and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.
After being outed, McClain became the first out active astronaut. Former astronaut Sally Ride‘s sexual orientation was revealed after her death in 2012.