ORLANDO, Fla. -- Records of former NASA astronaut Lisa Nowak's arrest in Orlando live in cyberspace, but an Orange County judge has sealed her criminal case forever.
Judge Marc Lubet closed the case to public view in December, nine months after declining Nowak's initial request to do that. The order was final on Dec. 12, according Karen Levey, chief of court administration's due process services.
In 2007, Nowak, then 43, drew international notoriety when she was arrested outside Orlando International Airport on charges of attacking a woman she believed was dating her former lover, another NASA astronaut, records show.
She was convicted of attacking Air Force Capt. Colleen Shipman with pepper spray in an airport parking lot. Nowak had driven about 900 miles from Houston to confront Shipman, then 30, for dating Navy Cmdr. Bill Oefelin, records show.
Lubet, who heard the case, sentenced the U.S. Naval Academy graduate to a year of probation and 50 hours of community service after she pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery and felony burglary of a conveyance.
Last March, Nowak asked the judge to seal the case claiming it could prevent her from getting work.
Lubet declined, ruling it was unlikely "that potential employers that the Defendant may apply to will not have heard of this case."
"The Court believes that it is in the public's best interest to keep this file open for additional time to allow media, or any other interested party in this matter, an opportunity to review the issues contained therein," the previous order stated.
The judge allowed her to apply again to have the records sealed "at a later date."
In July, Nowak retired from the Navy with a less-than-honorable discharge, records show.
Shipman and Oefelin married and now live in Alaska. Last fall, Oefelin survived the crash of a float plane he was flying. In December 2006, he was the pilot of STS-116, a space shuttle mission.
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ARCHIVE PHOTOS on MCT Direct (from MCT Photo Service, 202-383-6099): Lisa Nowak