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McSally alleges sex abuse by high-school track coach

Coach denies claims, calls congresswoman 'scheming'

U.S. Rep. Martha McSally was sexually abused by her track coach while she was a 17-year-old high school student, the Republican congresswoman said in a report published Monday.

McSally, 52, who is running in the GOP primary for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Jeff Flake, told the Wall Street Journal her #MeToo story, the newspaper said.

The former Air Force pilot, who has previously publicly discussed being sexually harassed in her quarter-century career in the service, had not disclosed her alleged teenaged experiences before, except to family and friends a decade later, the report said.

"It took a while for me to come to a place where I understood what the hell I had been through," McSally told the Journal. "At the time, I was so afraid. I now understand—like many girls and boys who are abused by people in authority over them—there's a lot of fear and manipulation and shame."

The coach denied the accusations and told the Journal that McSally is "scheming" and "nuts."

From the newspaper:

Ms. McSally said the experience occurred during her senior year of high school. She attended St. Mary Academy-Bay View, an all-girls Catholic school in Riverside, R.I. Her father had died when she was between sixth and seventh grades and, to "escape from the grief of losing my dad," she turned to exercise, including swimming and running, she said.

In high school, she ran cross-country and track, and discovered her talent for throwing the javelin. One of her first running coaches had become a father figure for her, she said, and when a different coach succeeded him, she put the same kind of trust in him.

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Two decades older than her, the new coach pressured Ms. McSally into having sex with him, she said in the interview. As she grew increasingly uncomfortable with the situation, he used a variety of psychological tactics to keep her silent, according to Ms. McSally.

"Even though he didn't physically force me, it certainly was an emotional manipulation," Ms. McSally said. She intensified her running in an effort to shut down her menstrual cycle, which she had noticed disappeared when she ran longer distances. "I was freaking out that he would get me pregnant," she said.

The school's 1984 yearbook identifies the track coach as Jack Dwyer, a spokeswoman for St. Mary Academy-Bay View said, but she declined to comment further. Mr. Dwyer said he coached Ms. McSally, and he denied her allegations.

"I believe she's nuts," he said. "That girl is the most scheming woman I ever met." Mr. Dwyer said Ms. McSally came to his home "a few times, uninvited, with and without other people," but they never had sex, he said. "This is another of her little schemes to make her look like this has happened to her," he said.

In response, Ms. McSally said in a statement: "He is a troubled man who I have forgiven, and I hope he finds God's peace and grace."

Read more in the Wall Street Journal: Arizona Rep. Martha McSally Alleges Sexual Abuse by High-School Coach

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1 comment on this story

Apr 24, 2018, 10:39 am
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If true this is horrific. However the timing seems awfully convenient.

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

McSally, announcing her Senate run in January 2018.