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The estranged wife of a NASA astronaut accused of improperly accessing her partner’s bank account from space claims that custody of a young child is at the center of the earth-bound dispute.
Summer Worden told KTRK she believes Anne McClain illegally accessed her bank account while on a six-month mission aboard the International Space Station in an attempt to gain custody of Worden’s son, Briggs.
Worden contends she never wanted to “ruin” the career of her spouse, but felt she had to act and report the alleged invasion of privacy after a court awarded McClain visitation time with Briggs two weeks ago.
"At that point, I knew I had to come forward and tell my story because the momentum of the case was not going in the direction we were hoping it to go in accordance with the law and preserving my rights as a parent," she said.
Worden filed a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission against McClain for identity theft after she said she discovered McClain had accessed her personal bank account while in space without her permission, according to The New York Times.
Worden’s parents also filed a complaint to NASA’s Inspector General about the alleged violation in June.
Her family claims that throughout their marriage—which began in 2014—McClain tried to pressure Worden to allow her to legally adopt Briggs, but Worden resisted.
“I just felt that she was almost held hostage,” Worden’s mother, Beth Worden, told the local station. “She was demanding that she had Briggs, this time, that time, and I could see how it was affecting Briggs.”
When McClain’s time in space was nearing an end earlier this summer, Beth Worden said the family’s concerns began to grow.
"As Anne was getting ready to come home, Summer was becoming more and more frightened and let us know about that," she said. "We were thinking, 'What on earth is going to happen?' Surely there's no way a third party can take our grandson. He's our firstborn grandson."
Worden’s son was born about a year before the couple met and during their marriage Worden never agreed to let McClain adopt him, according to The Times.
In an under-oath interview with the inspector general, McClain admitted to logging into the account, but claimed she was just checking on the family’s finances to ensure they had enough money to care for the child. She has denied there was any malicious intent to the log-in.
"There is absolutely no truth to these claims that I have done anything wrong or inappropriate,” McClain said in a statement. “Summer and I have been going through a painful and personal separation that is now unfortunately playing out in the media. I appreciate all the outpouring of support, and I will reserve any further comment until after the investigation concludes. I have complete confidence in the IG process."
Her attorney, Rusty Hardin, also released a statement about the allegations, calling the dispute a “personal matter.”
“Family cases are extremely difficult and private matters for all parties involved,” he said. “Neither Anne nor we will be commenting on this personal matter. We appreciate the media’s understanding and respect as maintaining privacy is in the best interest of the child and family members involved. We will be glad to fully comment once the investigation is completed.
Worden said she is hopeful that McClain will stop her attempts at achieving legal custody.
“I want Anne to take the pressure off and drop the case and be a nice person,” she said. “If she ever wants to have a relationship with Briggs or talk with Briggs or be informed on Briggs' life, clearly just as a decent human being, the right thing to do is to stop trying to force and take [it] through the court system.”
McClain, a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army, has been a member of NASA’s astronaut corps since 2013, according to Space Magazine.
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