Famed Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson Facing Sexual Assault Accusations From Four Women
Four women have recently stepped forward with claims that celebrity scientist and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson violated them in a variety of ways on several different occasions. Earlier this week it was reported that three women revealed to spiritual website Patheos, that the scientist made unwelcomed and inappropriate advances towards them including one incident that dates as far back as 1984.
Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Bucknell University, Katelyn N. Allers told the news site that she was “felt up” by Tyson in 2009 at an after party for the meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS). Allers says Tyson engaged in sexual misconduct in a conversation that began over her tattoo of the solar system:
“He noticed my tattoo and kind of grabbed me to look at it, and was really obsessed about whether I had Pluto on this tattoo or not… and then he looked for Pluto, and followed the tattoo into my dress.”
Allers shared that while she didn’t believe the encounter was necessarily evidence of assault she said it is indicative of a pattern of “creepy behavior.” She went on to share that Tyson’s actions were evidence of his clear disregard for personal boundaries.
“My experience with him is he’s not someone who has great respect for female bodily autonomy.”
Tyson addressed the accusations in a lengthy Facebook post entitled “On Being Accused.” In the post, the COSMOS host admits that he has a tendency to get excited when he notices “cosmic bling…that portray the universe, either scientifically or artistically.”
Another woman who acted as Tyson’s personal assistant shares that she felt forced to quit her job after an awkward encounter with Tyson in which she got the impression he was trying to “persuade” her to have sex with him. Ashley Watson shared she accepted an invitation to have wine with Tyson one night and he repeatedly questioned if she was in need of any “releases” stating that everyone needs “releases” in life. She went on to detail actions that involve an “intimate handshake” before Tyson stated that he wanted to hug her but was afraid if he did so he would “just want more.”
Tyson addresses the incident in the Facebook post stating that Watson later shared with him her thoughts on his “creepy behavior” after which he profusely apologized:
“At that last meeting in my office, I apologized profusely. She accepted the apology. And I assured her that had I known she was uncomfortable, I would have apologized on the spot, ended the evening, and possibly reminded her of the other social gathering that she could attend.”
“She nonetheless declared it her last day, with only a few days left of production. I note that her final gesture to me was the offer of a hug, which I accepted as a parting friend.”
Tyson outright denies an accusation of assault that is reported to have occurred in 1984 in which fellow grad student Tchiya Amet accuses the scientist of raping and drugging her. Amet claims she was on track to be the first Black female astronaut before the alleged assault forced her to drop out of school.
Buzzfeed now reports that a fourth accuser has stepped forward alleging a drunk Tyson approached her at a holiday party in 2010 at the American Museum of Natural History while attempting to get her to go with him into his office. She says she later informed her employer about the incident in 2014 when Tyson was being considered as a possible speaker for an engagement.
Tyson maintains that while he is a flawed individual, he is not the person these accusers are depicting him as and shares words of caution about the power that accusations can hold:
“Accusations can damage a reputation and a marriage. Sometimes irreversibly. I see myself as loving husband and as a public servant – a scientist and educator who serves at the will of the public. I am grateful for the support I’ve received from those who continue to respect and value me and my work.”
Fox Entertainment and National Geographic, the two networks that airs his shows, including COSMOS have yet to make a statement about the fourth accusation, but did share they would cooperate fully in any investigation regarding the first three accusations:
“The credo at the heart of COSMOS is to follow the evidence wherever it leads.”
“The producers of COSMOS can do no less in this situation. We are committed to a thorough investigation of this matter and to act accordingly as soon as it is concluded.”