Popular astrophysicist and TV host Neil deGrasse Tyson has hit back at accusations that he made unwanted sexual advances to three women over a 30 year period.
Tyson, a married father-of-two, and the host of ‘Cosmos’ on Fox in 2014 and a new edition of the series set to air on National Geographic next year, is to be investigated by FOX and National Geographic Networks after the allegations from two of the women were published by Patheos.com on Thursday.
On Saturday night Tyson took to Facebook and Twitter to give his side of the story saying in a statement that although he had ‘declined comment on the grounds that serious accusations should not be adjudicated in the press … clearly I cannot continue to stay silent. So below I offer my account of each accusation.’
Celebrity astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson has hit back at accusations that he made unwanted sexual advances against three women over a 30 year period
Tyson took to Facebook and Twitter to present an ‘account of each accusation’ which span from the early 80s to 2018
Tyson goes on to address the allegations from 2009 and 2018. He also references a blog post by a third woman, Tchiya Amet, from her 2014 blog post alleging that Tyson drugged and raped her in 1984.
Dr. Katelyn N. Allers, a physics professor at Bucknell University, alleged to Patheos that Tyson ‘felt her up’ at an after-party following an American Astronomical Society conference in Long Beach, California in 2009.
Allers said Tyson began to take keen interest in her tattoo, which depicts the solar system and extends from Allers’ arm to her back and collar bone.
Allers and Tyson had photos taken together after which Allers alleged Tyson ‘grabbed her’ proceeding to ‘look for Pluto’ and followed the tattoo ‘into my dress.’
In his statement, Tyson tackles the allegations. ‘Many in my fan-base can attest, I get almost giddy if I notice you’re wearing cosmic bling – clothing or jewelry or tattoos that portray the universe, either scientifically or artistically,’ he writes.
He goes on to say he doesn’t ‘explicitly remember searching for Pluto …’ but that ‘it is surely something I would have done in that situation. As we all know, I have professional history with the demotion of Pluto, which had occurred officially just three years earlier.’
Dr. Katelyn N. Allers, a physics professor at Bucknell University, (pictured above) alleges Tyson groped her. Tyson denies the allegation
However, he denies groping Allers or searching ‘up her dress,’ adding it was ‘simply a search under the covered part of her shoulder of the sleeveless dress.’
Allers said that Tyson’s behavior was not severe enough to warrant a complaint about sexual assault but stated it was ‘creepy behavior.’
Tyson said he didn’t know Allers found his behavior creepy and that it wasn’t his intent and that he is ‘deeply sorry’ he made her feel that way.
He goes on to say he will be more ‘sensitive to people’s personal space, even in the midst of my planetary enthusiasm.’
A second woman, Ashley Watson, told Patheos that she quit her job as Tyson’s assistant after her boss made inappropriate sexual advances toward her in the summer of 2018.
Watson said Tyson invited her to his apartment one night after work to ‘share a bottle of wine’ and ‘unwind for a couple of hours.’ Watson said she felt pressure to impress her boss so went along.
In his statement, Tyson remembers the evening differently.
He mentions spending ‘upwards of a hundred hours in one-on-one conversation’ with Watson covering numerous topics and developing a friendship when she was working as his assistant.
Tyson references Watson hugging people on set but said he ‘expressly rejected each hug offered frequently during the Production. But in its place I offered a handshake, and on a few occasions, clumsily declared, ‘If I hug you I might just want more.’ My intent was to express restrained but genuine affection.’
Tyson says he invited Watson to have wine and cheese one evening but there was ‘no pressure’ for her to come along. ‘She freely chose to come by for wine & cheese and I was delighted,’ he said.
Ashley Watson (pictured above) quit as Tyson’s personal assistant after wine and cheese at his house. Tyson said he didn’t try and seduce her but offered her a ‘special handshake’ in friendship
Watson says Tyson made suggestive comments during her visit that contained sexual innuendos.
He allegedly began talking about human beings needing certain ‘releases.’
Watson said at one point Tyson engaged in a ‘Native American handshake’ in which both of them held hands tightly, made eye contact, and felt for each other’s pulse. Tyson told Watson that the handshake was a ‘spirit connection.’
Tyson acknowledges he did offer ‘a special handshake,’ but that he hadn’t touched Watson up until that point.
‘You extend your thumb forward during the handshake to feel the other person’s vital spirit energy — the pulse. I’ve never forgotten that handshake, and I save it in appreciation of people with whom I’ve developed new friendships,’ Tyson wrote.
Tyson’s Facebook statements ends with an ‘overview’ in which he states he welcomes an independent investigation by Fox and National Geographic Networks
Tyson mentions in his statement that Watson told him afterwards that she felt ‘creeped out’ by the visit.
‘She viewed the invite as an attempt to seduce her, even though she sat across the wine & cheese table from me, and all conversation had been in the same vein as all other conversations we ever had,’ Tyson said.
‘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 … She nonetheless declared it her last day, with only a few days left of production.’ Tyson added.
The final allegations Tyson addresses in his statement are those from Tchiya Amet, a a musician, teacher and former classmate of Tyson’s who studied galactic astronomy in the graduate program at the University of Texas in Austin.
Amet wrote a blog post in 2014 in which she accused Tyson of drugging her and rape, which she alleged took place in 1984.
‘He offered me a glass of water,’ she wrote in 2014. ‘I accepted a liquid in a cup made out of a coconut shell. ‘I recall coming back to consciousness briefly, then next thing I remember is seeing him in the hallway the next day. ‘I have lived in this nightmare for 30 years, and it stops today,’ Amet said.
Tyson says Tchiya Amet, who was a classmate of Tyson’s at the University of Texas in Austin, has a ‘false memory’ and that he did not drug or rape her
Tyson acknowledges in his statement that he had a brief relationship with Amet.
‘I remember being intimate only a few times, all at her apartment, but the chemistry wasn’t there. So the relationship faded quickly. There was nothing otherwise odd or unusual about this friendship.’
He said Amet had dropped out of the graduate program and he’d later ran into her while she was pregnant and he ‘wished her well in motherhood and in whatever career path would follow.’
Tyson mentions how he read Amet’s blog post in 2014 that coincided with his ‘visibility-level’ taking ‘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. She had changed her name and lived an entire life, married with children, before this accusation,’ Tyson said.
Tyson goes on in his statement to say what Amet says 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. Nor does she remember waking up the next morning and going to the office. I kept a record of everything she posted, in case her stories morphed over time. So this is sad, which, for me, defies explanation,’ Tyson added.
The Facebook statements ends with an ‘overview’ in which Tyson states he welcomes an independent investigation by Fox and National Geographic Networks.
Besides his numerous TV appearances, Tyson is also the director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.