3 women accuse Neil deGrasse Tyson of sexual misconduct
MANILA, Philippines – TV host and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson was accused by 3 women of sexual misconduct.
Tyson is known for hosting documentaries and shows such as Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.
According to a report from Patheos, the 3 women – Tchiya Amet, Katelyn Allers, and Ashley Watson – came forward and shared how the incidents happened with Tyson.
Amet, the first person to raise the accusation, said she met Tyson back in 1984 when they were both graduate students at the University of Austin, Texas. She said that Tyson offered water to her and the next thing she knew, she woke up to him already on top of her.
In 2010, she publicly confronted him about the incident during a gathering.
"I didn't know if anybody would hear me, but I said, 'Today is National Sexual Assault Awareness Day in National Sexual Assault Awareness Month and I'm here because when I was a grad student at UT Austin in 1984 you raped me,'" said Amet.
Allers, an associate professor of physics and astronomy at Bucknell University, claimed Tyson groped her at a party in 2009.
Allers said that after having a photo taken with Tyson, he wanted to see her tattoo.
"After we had taken the picture, 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," she said.
She then said that he was "not someone who has great respect for female bodily autonomy."
Watson, a former assistant for Tyson, said she quit her job due to his inappropriate behavior.
Speaking to Patheos as well, Watson said Tyson placed her in uncomfortable situations by uttering misogynistic remarks and even asking her to have sex with him.
She said that she experienced his advances many times and shrugged them off. When she confronted him about his behavior, he supposedly told her that she would never rise from the ranks because she was "distracting."
Addressing the allegations
Following the statements of the 3 women, Fox Entertainment and National Geographic Channel said they would conduct an investigation.
Tyson said that he welcomes the probe, then explained that he initially declined to speak to media because he felt the allegations should be addressed in the proper forum. But he said in a Facebook post, "Clearly I cannot continue to stay silent."
Addressing Amet's allegation, Tyson said they had a "brief relationship" in graduate school which "faded quickly" because "the chemistry wasn't there."
"More than 30 years later, as my visibility level took another jump, I read a freshly posted blog accusing me of drugging and raping a woman I did not recognize by either photo or name. Turned out to be the same person who I dated briefly in graduate school," he said.
"According to her blog posts, the drug and rape allegation comes from an assumption of what happened to her during a night that she cannot remember. It is as though a false memory had been implanted, which, because it never actually happened, had to be remembered as an evening she doesn’t remember."
On Allers' accusation, Tyson said he does "great interest" in Pluto, but said: "I was reported to have 'groped' her by searching 'up her dress,' when this was simply a search under the covered part of her shoulder of the sleeveless dress.... I'm deeply sorry to have made her feel that way. Had I been told of her discomfort in the moment, I would have offered this same apology eagerly, and on the spot."
Tyson then recounted his association with Watson, saying they had a "fun, talkative friendship" and describing her as "a talented, warm, and friendly person."
"In the final week of shooting, with just a few days left, as a capstone of our friendship, I invited her to wine and cheese at my place upon dropping me off from work. No pressure. I serve wine and cheese often to visitors.... She freely chose to come by for wine and cheese and I was delighted," he said.
"Afterwards, she came into my office [and] told me she was creeped out by the wine and cheese evening. She viewed the invite as an attempt to seduce her, even though she sat across the wine and cheese table from me, and all conversation had been in the same vein as all other conversations we ever had. Further, I never touched her until I shook her hand upon departure."
Below is the full statement from Tyson's Facebook page: