Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), a leading candidate for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), tells The Wall Street Journal that she was sexually abused by a track coach during her senior year in high school, and that the experience helped shape her life choices. McSally, 52, said that she had taken up running to "escape from the grief of losing my dad" in middle school, and at St. Mary Academy-Bay View, an all-girl Catholic high school in Rhode Island, she placed her trust in a male coach who pressured her into having sex with him.
"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. "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 sexual relationship wasn't physically coerced, she added, but "it certainly was an emotional manipulation." McSally said she ramped up her running to shut down her menstrual cycle, because "I was freaking out that he would get me pregnant."
McSally said she chose to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado in part "to get away from him," and she pushed herself in other ways because of the ordeal. She told her family 10 years after the experience, and Rich Robinson, who volunteered at an Arizona Air Force base chapel when McSally was stationed there, told the Journal that she had told him about the alleged abuse by her coach, "and others," in 1994. (McSally also told the Journal she had "similar, awful experiences in the military on the spectrum of abuse of power and sexual assault.") The Journal identified the coach in question, who denied ever having sex with McSally. You can read more at The Wall Street Journal.