Man arrested after ex-Arizona senator reports assault while running: 'You picked the wrong target'

Martha McSally said a man molested her while she was running along the Missouri River in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

ByMeredith Deliso ABCNews logo
Saturday, November 11, 2023
Man arrested after ex-Arizona senator reports being attacked on run
A suspect has been arrested on an assault charge after former Arizona Sen. Martha McSally said she was attacked while on a run in Iowa this week.

A suspect has been arrested on an assault charge after former Arizona Sen. Martha McSally said she was attacked while on a run in Iowa this week, ABC News reported.

McSally was running along the Missouri River in Council Bluffs on Wednesday when a man "came up behind me and he engulfed me in a bear hug," she said in a video posted on Instagram.

"He molested and fondled me until I fought him off," she said.

McSally said she then chased her assailant and called 911 as he hid in a brush but he managed to flee.

Authorities identified a suspect in the incident as 25-year-old Dominic Henton, of Papillion, Nebraska, in part based on surveillance video, the Council Bluffs Police Department said. An arrest warrant was issued Thursday charging him with one count of assault with intent to commit sexual abuse, police said.

Henton was taken into custody by the Omaha Police Department around 3:20 a.m. local time on Friday, Council Bluffs police said.

Omaha police initially responded to his home on Thursday after Henton made a welfare call, according to Council Bluffs Police Sgt. Ted Roberts. Omaha officers were unaware of the arrest warrant in Council Bluffs at the time, since it had not been fully processed, and took Henton to the hospital, he said.

Henton was later released from the hospital and called Omaha police again, by which time officers had the arrest warrant and took him to jail, Roberts said.

SEE ALSO | Lauren Heike murder: Man arrested after woman killed in brutal attack on hiking trail, police say

Prior to his arrest, police released stills from surveillance footage they said shows Henton as he followed McSally over a pedestrian bridge and onto a trail.

Henton is believed to be transient and to frequent the riverfront area on both the Iowa and Nebraska sides, police said.

McSally said she was in town to speak at an event in Omaha when the attack occurred.

"I just wanted to share that I chose to fight and I'm okay right now, in part because of that. It could have been much worse," McSally said on Instagram.

McSally said in a follow-up post that she was grateful to the "amazing team of detectives" working on the case.

To the suspect, she said, "You will not get away with this or try to harm and violate another woman. You picked the wrong target."

McSally, a Republican, was appointed by then-Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to the Senate in 2019 to fill the late Sen. John McCain's seat after another appointee -- Sen. Jon Kyl -- resigned. She lost to Democratic nominee Mark Kelly in a special election in 2020 to determine who would serve out the remainder of McCain's term.

McSally served in the Air Force for 26 years and was the nation's first female fighter pilot to serve in combat.

During a congressional hearing on military sexual assault in 2019, McSally said she was raped by a superior Air Force officer and that she stayed silent for years.

"I also am a military sexual assault survivor, but unlike so many brave survivors, I didn't report being sexually assaulted," McSally said during the hearing. "Like so many women and men, I didn't trust the system at the time. I blamed myself. I was ashamed and confused. I thought I was strong but felt powerless. The perpetrators abused their position of power in profound ways."

ABC News' Alexandra Faul contributed to this report.