Fox News and the National Geographic network are investigating scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson after multiple women have made allegations against him ranging from handsy behavior to rape. From the Associated Press:
Patheos.com published accounts Thursday from two women who say that Tyson behaved in a sexually inappropriate manner with them. Tyson was host of “Cosmos” on Fox in 2014 and a new edition of the series was to air on National Geographic next year.
Tyson has not commented publicly and an email request for comment to his representative was not immediately returned.
The allegations published Thursday at Patheos involve two different women, one of whom says she met Tyson at an event in Long Beach, CA in 2009. Dr. Katelyn N. Allers is a professor of Physics and Astronomy at Bucknell University. After taking a picture with Tyson, she says he noticed the large tattoo of the solar system on her shoulder and down her arm. He began turning her around looking at the details and then asked if Pluto was part of the tattoo. She says Tyson, “looked for Pluto, and followed the tattoo into my dress.” Dr. Allers says she never felt threatened as this happened in a public place with lots of other scientists around, but the interaction left her with the impression that Tyson is, “not someone who has great respect for female bodily autonomy.”
The second allegation published by Patheos this Thursday comes from Ashley Watson who worked for a time as Tyson’s assistant. Watson says Tyson invited her to his apartment to share a bottle of wine. She agreed to meet him for a glass of wine, feeling she really couldn’t tell her boss a flat no on the invitation. When she arrived things got weird:
Upon entering his apartment, Tyson allegedly took off his shoes and shirt, remaining in a tank top undershirt. Unfortunately, the night only got more awkward as Tyson, who is married, reportedly put on romantic music and replayed the most graphic parts…
Watson says Tyson started talking about how every human being needs certain “releases” in life, including physical releases. He reportedly mentioned how difficult it had been for him to be away from home for several months.
Watson says Tyson asked her if she needed any releases, and she responded with a story about sexual harassment she endured in the past. It was a smart way to diffuse a tense situation, but she says he was unfazed…
She was getting up to leave when Neil allegedly stopped her, saying he wanted to show her a “Native American handshake” he knew. That involved holding hands tightly, making eye contact, and feeling for each other’s pulse, Watson told me.
When Watson tried to leave, she says Tyson grabbed her by the shoulders and told her he wanted to hug her but that he was afraid if he did so he’d “just want more.” Watson left and reported the incident to her supervisor.
These stories may add some credence to a previous allegation which is much more serious. Last year, Patheos published a story about an allegation of rape made by Tchiya Amet. Amet claims Tyson drugged and raped her when they were both students back in 1984. Patheos published an update on that allegation earlier this month including a recorded phone interview with Amet.
Amet says it was at this school that Tyson befriended — and ultimately raped — her. She told me she was at his apartment when he offered her water, and the next thing she remembered was waking up to an assault.
“I woke up in his bed; I was naked… When he saw that I had woken up, he got on top of me and mounted me, and I passed out again.”
She says she confronted Tyson in a hallway at UT Austin, demanding to know why he’d done it. She also claims she confronted him at a public speech he gave in California in 2010. By that time, Tyson was well known and Amet says she walked to a mic set up for Q&A and 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.”
The author of the Patheos piece says he has confirmed elements of Amet’s story including that she attended the same school as Tyson at the same time and that someone remembers a woman making an allegation of sexual abuse against Tyson at the public event in 2010. Amet has also written about the incident several times on her personal blog. So, at a minimum, she’s been making this allegation for a number of years. Here’s the phone interview with her. You can listen and make your own judgment about her credibility.