Neil DeGrasse Tyson Responds To Misconduct Allegations As Cosmos Team Investigates

Cosmos Possible Worlds

A few days ago, news broke that Fox and National Geographic would be looking into a series of sexual misconduct allegations related to incidents occurring across the last several decades. Now, Neil deGrasse Tyson has written a detailed post explaining the allegations and apologizing to the women for any discomfort he may have caused.

Previously, three incidents were listed: A woman who claimed Neil deGrasse Tyson groped her, a woman who said Tyson sent her unwanted advances and a woman who accused the astrophysicist of raping her in the 1980s.

In his social media post, Neil deGrasse Tyson chose to address each incident separately. Of the allegations coming from Dr. Katelyn N. Allers, the woman who is connected to the groping incident, Neil deGrasse Tyson says he did lift up the sleeve of her shirt to take a closer look at a planetary tattoo (there are photos of this happening), but his interest was in whether or not she had included Pluto as part of her tattoo, not her arm.

Of the groping incident, Tyson wrote:

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 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. In my mind's eye, I'm a friendly and accessible guy, but going forward, I can surely be more sensitive to people's personal space, even in the midst of my planetary enthusiasm.

Dr. Allers has previously said she did not think the incident was assault, but that she feels the astrophysicist doesn't respect "female bodily autonomy."

Speaking out about his former assistant Ashley Watson, who quit her position after claiming Neil deGrasse Tyson sent her unwanted advances during a wine and cheese get together after she drove him home at the end of a long day of work, Tyson says that he and Watson had become friendly and had conversations of a more in depth and personal nature during their time working together. He admits he did invite her to hang out at his place, where he says nothing happened. They ate wine and cheese together and he says he shook her hand, giving her a special handshake he specifically remembers came from a Native elder near they Grand Canyon.

He stated that Ashley Watson did come to him the next day and tell him she thought the wine and cheese invitation was creepy, whereupon he says he apologized, but that Watson decided to quit her position anyway. He says he thought they had ended on friendly terms. Per Tyson:

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.

The previous 1980s rape allegations are also touched on. Previously, Tchiya Amet has accused Neil deGrasse Tyson of raping her after slipping her date rape drugs while they were at school together and that the incident later gave her PTSD and derailed her career. They were at school together at the same time and Tyson admits they had a brief relationship. However, he says of the alleged accusations:

Meanwhile, 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 closed by mentioning that Fox and Nat Geo, networks which air his popular programs Cosmos and StarTalk, are looking into each of these allegations. Both Fox and Nat Geo have said they will look into "the evidence" and make a decision accordingly. Neil deGrasse Tyson is saying in response that he "welcomes[s]" the chance for the networks to reveal exactly what happened in each of the three situations. He said:

That brings us back to the value of an independent investigation, which FOX/NatGeo (the networks on which Cosmos and StarTalk air) announced that they will conduct. I welcome this. 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.

Times Up has made many changes in Hollywood over the past year as famous producers, actors and more have been accused of various levels of sexual misconduct by accusers. Some of these individuals, such as Harvey Weinstein, have dealt with some legal troubles related to allegations. Others, like Chris Hardwick, have been investigated and gone back to work.

Fox and Nat Geo only announced that it would be looking into the allegations on Friday. We will have to wait and see how the findings pan out and we will keep you posted regarding the findings as soon as that information is available. The popular series from Neil deGrasse Tyson, Cosmos: Possible Worlds, has been set to air on March 3, 2019 for some time, but that date could change, depending on the investigation's results. In addition, StarTalk kicked off a new season this winter with an episode featuring Anthony Bourdain meant to pay tribute to the travel vlogger and chef. Currently, no decision has been made about the future of that series either.

If you'd like to look specifically into Neil deGrasse Tyson's word choice and everything he has said about each of the three alleged incidents, you can read his full blog post over at Facebook.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Reality TV fan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. Theme park junkie. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.