Neil deGrasse Tyson denies sexual misconduct allegations in lengthy Facebook post
"Accusations can damage a reputation and a marriage. Sometimes irreversibly. I see myself as loving husband," he wrote, in part, in the post.
In a lengthy Facebook post, Neil deGrasse Tyson denies allegations of sexual misconduct levied against him by three women.
The astrophysicist and author said, although he has declined media interviews, he could no longer remain silent and felt the need to share his side.
“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,” Tyson wrote in the post titled On Being Accused.
Last month, three women told Patheos, a religion and spirituality website, that Tyson sexually harassed them by making inappropriate advances. The incidents allegedly date back to early 1984 and extend to recent years.
Katelyn N. Allers, an associate professor of physics and astronomy at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, told Patheos that Tyson reached into her dress while admiring her tattoo o the solar system and looking for Pluto. She said the incident happened during a party after a gathering of the American Astronomical Society in 2009, according to CNN.
Allers told Patheos that the incident made her think Tyson was capable of “creepy behavior.”
“My experience with him is he’s not someone who has great respect for female bodily autonomy,” she told Patheos.
In his Facebook response, Tyson, who hosts the 2014 series, “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey,” said he didn’t know Allers felt uncomfortable by his behavior. He said his action “was simply a search (for the tattoo) under the covered part of her shoulder of the sleeveless dress.”
“I only just learned (nine years after) that she thought this behavior creepy,” he wrote. “That was never my intent and I’m deeply sorry to have made her feel that way.”
A second woman, Ashley Watson, said she quit her job as Tyson’s assistant last summer after he attempted to make sexual advances toward her.
Watson told Patheos that she accepted an invitation from Tyson to come to his place under pressure because he was her boss. Once there, Watson said deGrasse spoke about people needing human physical releases and gave her an “awkward and incredibly intimate handshake.”
In his Facebook response, Tyson described multiple interactions with Watson where he said they would delve into deep discussions on a wide range of topics. He said he simply invited her to his place for wine and cheese because it was the last week of production. He said Watson later told him that she was “creeped out” and viewed the invitation as an attempt to seduce her, for which he apologized profusely. Still, the woman quit before production officially ended.
A third woman, Tchiya Amet, alleges Tyson drugged and raped her in 1984 while they were graduate students at the University of Texas at Austin, according to CNN.
Amet said she blacked out after Tyson gave her a drink and woke up naked on his bed.
Tyson disputed the allegation, noting they had briefly dated in graduate school “but the chemistry wasn’t there.”
“[A]ccording 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,” Tyson shared on Facebook. “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.”
Fox Entertainment and National Geographic, the networks airing Tyson’s show, announced Friday they would investigate the allegations, the New York Times reported. Tyson said he welcomes the independent investigations.