Arizona Rep. Alleges Coach Pressured Her Into Sex at 17

Martha McSally is running for Jeff Flake's Senate seat
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 24, 2018 5:03 AM CDT
Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., speaks at a rally, Friday, Jan. 12, 2018, in Phoenix.   (AP Photo/Matt York)

(Newser) – Arizona Rep. Martha McSally says she is where she is today because of a violation. The Republican, who is gunning for Jeff Flake's Senate seat, tells the Wall Street Journal her high-school track coach at St. Mary Academy-Bay View in Riverside, RI, sexually abused her during her senior year, when she was 17. She alleges the coach, who was reportedly in his late 30s, pressured her into sex and that while "he didn't physically force me, it certainly was an emotional manipulation." She says she went so far as to run more extreme distances in order to halt her period and eliminate the chance she could become pregnant. The Journal used the 1984 yearbook from the all-girls Catholic school to identify the coach as Jack Dwyer. He didn't mince words when contacted by the Journal: "I believe she’s nuts."

Dwyer did recall McSally coming to his home uninvited on some occasions, but denied sex ever occurred. "That girl is the most scheming woman I ever met," he says. He denies he was fired after someone McSally confided in went to the school, but says he left to take another job; the school didn't comment. McSally left, too—bound for Colorado. "One of the many reasons why I ended up leaving Rhode Island and going to the Air Force Academy was to get away from him," she says. She went on to become the first female fighter pilot to fly in combat in 1995 and frames her achievements as part of a search for "ways to not be powerless." Around the time of that accomplishment she says she looked into whether the coach could be prosecuted but found mostly dead ends. The Washington Post paints her as the GOP's "preferred successor" for Flake.

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