NASA reportedly investigating first allegation of crime committed in space

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Credit: U.S. astronaut Anne McClain. Credit: Nasa.

Astronaut Anne McClain is facing the first allegation of a crime committed in space, reports The New York Times. McClain’s estranged wife, Summer Worden, accused the astronaut of accessing her bank account while on a six-month mission aboard the International Space Station.

The pair have been in the midst of a separation and custody dispute over Worden’s young son for the majority of the past year, according to The Times. Worden became suspicious when she says she discovered that McClain knew details about her spending.

Worden, a former Air Force intelligence officer, asked her bank about the locations of devices that had used her login information to recently access her account. She reportedly found that one computer network used was registered to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

While McClain confirmed that she accessed the bank account while in space, her lawyer told The Times that she was tending to the couple’s finances.

Worden disputed the claim and filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Her family also submitted a complaint with NASA’s Office of Inspector General, accusing McClain of identity theft and saying she had improper access to Worden’s private financial records.

McClain categorically denied the allegations on Twitter. “There’s unequivocally no truth to these claims,” she wrote Sunday. “We’ve been going through a painful, personal separation that’s now unfortunately in the media.” She added that she will reserve comment until the investigation is finished, but appreciated the “outpouring of support.”

The astronaut garnered increased media attention earlier this year after she was pulled from the planned first-ever spacewalk by two female astronauts. NASA scrapped the historic spacewalk, citing a lack of available spacesuits that would fit them at the International Space Station — and replaced McClain with a male astronaut.

McClain, who graduated from West Point and is still a lieutenant colonel in the Army, is one of the 12 female astronauts who could be the first woman on the moon by 2024, Stars and Stripes reported last week.

Last week, she submitted an interview under oath with the inspector general and claimed she was doing what she has in the past — with Worden’s seal of approval — to ensure the family’s financial situation was in order.

“She strenuously denies that she did anything improper,” her lawyer, Rusty Hardin, told The Times. Hardin said his client is fully cooperating with the inspector general’s investigation.

Hardin added that McClain was attempting to ensure there was enough money in Worden’s account to pay bills and care for Worden’s son, whom the pair had been raising. Hardin has not yet responded to CBS News’ request for comment.

In a statement obtained by CBS News, NASA touted the astronaut’s achievements but said it “does not comment on personal or personnel matters.”

“Lt Col. Anne McClain has an accomplished military career, flew combat missions in Iraq and is one of NASA’s top astronauts,” the agency wrote. “She did a great job on her most recent NASA mission aboard the International Space Station.”

Michael Mataya, an investigator specializing in criminal cases with NASA’s Office of Inspector General and another official have reportedly been looking into allegations against McClain. The trade commission has yet to respond to the report of identity theft, according to Worden.

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