Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is finally speaking out after being accused by three women of sexual misconduct.
In a lengthy Facebook post titled “On Being Accused”
the scientist and author addresses each of the incidents, offering his version of the events which took place.
“I’ve recently been publicly accused of sexual misconduct. These accusations have received a fair amount of press in the past forty-eight hours, unaccompanied by my reactions. In many cases, it’s not the media’s fault,” he wrote. “I declined comment on the grounds that serious accusations should not be adjudicated in the press. But clearly I cannot continue to stay silent. So below I offer my account of each accusation.”
The accusations arose last month when three women told Patheos
, a religious and spirituality website, that Tyson made inappropriate advances toward them. One accusation dates back to 1984, while the most recent arose in 2018.
Katelyn N Allers, an Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Bucknell University, told the news site that she was “felt up” by Tyson in 2009 at a party after a meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) after Tyson became enthralled by 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 claimed, saying while she didn’t believe that the incident didn’t necessarily indicate assault that it showed that 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
Tyson acknowledged in his post that he can “get almost giddy” if he notices that you have “cosmic bling…that portray the universe, either scientifically or artistically.”
“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,” he wrote.
“I only just learned (nine years after) that she thought this behavior creepy. That was never my intent and 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,” he added.
Another woman, Ashley Watson, said that she felt forced to quit her job as Tyson’s assistant because of the inappropriate advances that Tyson made, allegedly trying to persuade her to have sex with him and demonstrating “predatory tendencies.”
Watson was working directly under Tyson when she felt pressured to accept an invitation to share a bottle of wine in his apartment at around 10:30 p.m. one night.
Watson detailed to Patheos
Tyson’s behavior, including his talk about how every one needs certain “releases” in life, before he asked Watson herself if she needed any “releases.” The scientist also gave her what she described as an “intimate handshake,” before allegedly stating that he wanted to hug her but if he did so he’d “just want more.”
In his post, Tyson noted that he had many interactions with the Watson, who was a Production Assistant assigned to him. He also addressed the wine incident, noting that the woman later told her that she was “creeped out” by what she saw as an attempt to seduce her.
“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,” he wrote. ” 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.”
The final woman, Tchiya Amet accused Tyson of drugging and raping her
when they were both graduate students in 1984. Amet claimed that the assault which caused her to drop out of school when she was on track to become the first Black female astronaut at the time. This is an accusation that Tyson outrightly denies.
“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. ”
Tyson wraps up his blog post noting that Fox Entertainment and National Geographic, the two networks that airs his shows, announced that they would be investigating the allegations, which he said he welcomes.
“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,” he wrote.