The estranged wife of NASA astronaut Anne McClain said she went public with the astronaut's alleged financial and identity theft crimes – which may be the first criminal offenses to occur in space – after her family became "frightened" by McClain's demands during a bitter custody battle.
Summer Worden, a former Air Force intelligence officer from Kansas, claims McClain stole her identity and accessed her bank account without permission – while she was orbiting the Earth during a six-month mission aboard the International Space Station – as part of her attempt to gain custody over Worden's 6-year-old son, Briggs, who Worden gave birth to about a year before meeting McClain.
"We really didn't want it to come back in my face and make it look like I was trying to retaliate against Anne or to ruin her career, which is obviously what she is stating now, that I'm trying to ruin her career," Worden explained.
But two weeks ago, when a judge granted McClain a visitation schedule, Worden said she felt she "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."
Worden filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, and her parents filed a complaint with NASA’s Office of Inspector General, accusing McClain of assuming her identity and gaining improper access to her private financial records while orbiting Earth. She previously told The New York Times she was tipped off when McClain somehow had knowledge about her private spending while on a mission with no way to know otherwise.
She said she contacted her bank and was informed that her sign-in credentials had been used on a computer registered to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
“I was pretty appalled that she would go that far," Worden said. "I knew it was not O.K."
Worden's mother, Beth Worden, said that before McClain was set to come home from space, Worden "was becoming more and more frightened and let us know about that...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."
When Worden and McClain wed in 2014, Worden refused McClain's request to adopt the child. The Worden family told KTRK that McClain demanded she be allowed to legally adopt the 6-year-old child — despite Worden telling her no.
She took Worden to court in 2018 to get shared parenting rights after accusing Worden of having a temper and making poor financial decisions — but Worden filed for divorce after now-deleted pictures of her son and McClain were posted to her Twitter.
Not long after, McClain left for space.
"I just felt that she was almost held hostage," Beth Worden said. "She was demanding that she had Briggs, this time, that time, and I could see how it was affecting Briggs."
She added: "It seems like right now Anne controls our life. We have to be home at 7 o'clock, three nights a week, so she can FaceTime with him. Well, that's the time that we're eating dinner, just getting home from soccer practice, and then every other Saturday she gets to see him so that takes him away from us."
McClain tweeted Saturday there's "unequivocally no truth to these claims."
"We’ve been going through a painful, personal separation that’s now unfortunately in the media. I appreciate the outpouring of support and will reserve comment until after the investigation," the astronaut wrote. "I have total confidence in the IG process."
Worden wants McClain to "take the pressure off and drop the case and be a nice person," and said the right thing to do, in order for her to have any type of relationship with Briggs, "is to stop trying to force and take through the court system."
Fox News' Paulina Dedaj contributed to this report.