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First US female fighter pilot to fly in combat claims she was raped while serving in Air Force

Martha McSally made the claim at a Senate hearing yesterday.

Republican Senator Martha McSally testifies in front of yesterday's Senate committee
Republican Senator Martha McSally testifies in front of yesterday's Senate committee
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

MARTHA MCSALLY, THE first woman to ever fly in combat for the US, has revealed she was sexually assaulted by a superior officer when she was in the Air Force.

The Republican senator made the disclosure yesterday at a Senate hearing on the military’s efforts to prevent sexual assaults and improve the response when they occur.

McSally, a 26-year military veteran, was in the ninth class at the Air Force Academy to allow women, where she said sexual harassment and assault were prevalent.

She also told yesterday’s hearing that she felt like the system was raping her “all over again” when she tried to discuss the issue with officials, adding that she was ashamed and confused over the incident.

McSally did not say whether her assaults happened at the academy or during active duty, and did not name the alleged perpetrator, but focused on a need for accountability.

“I was horrified at how my attempt to share generally my experiences was handled,” she said. “Like many victims, I felt like the system was raping me all over again.”

Despite staying silent for years, McSally said she felt like speaking out after watching the military grapple with how to handle sexual assaults.

Captain Carrie Volpe, an Air Force spokeswoman, said the branch was appalled at and “deeply sorry” about what McSally’s experience.

“The criminal actions reported today by Senator McSally violate every part of what it means to be an Airman,” she said in a statement.

“And we stand behind her and all victims of sexual assault. We are steadfast in our commitment to eliminate this reprehensible behavior and breach of trust in our ranks.”

With reporting from Associated Press.

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