Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson will be back on the National Geographic channel soon after apparently being cleared in an internal investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct. From the Hollywood Reporter:
The astrophysicist’s science-focused talk show, StarTalk, will return to Nat Geo in April; it had been off the air since November while the investigation was conducted. Cosmos: Possible Worlds, a follow-up to 2014’s Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, will also air on Fox and Nat Geo, though a date hasn’t been set.
“The investigation is complete, and we are moving forward with both StarTalk and Cosmos,” Fox and Nat Geo said in a statement. “StarTalk will return to the air with the remaining 13 episodes in April on National Geographic, and both Fox and National Geographic are committed to finding an air date for Cosmos. There will be no further comment.”
Tyson was accused of misconduct by four women ranging from rape to “creepy behavior.” The first allegations appeared on Patheos last November. Dr. Katelyn N. Allers had photos of her interaction with Tyson in which he took an interest in her tattoo of the solar system and began a search for Pluto which led him to look into her dress. She described it as “creepy behavior.”
The same story included allegations by Ashley Watson who worked with Tyson on his show. Tyson invited Watson to his apartment and played romantic music and began talking about the need for “releases.”
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.
At the end of the encounter, Tyson insisted on showing her a special “Native American handshake” which involved holding hands, staring into one another’s eyes, and feeling for the other person’s pulse. Watson said she quit her job after the incident.
The third and most serious allegation dated back to Tyson’s days as a graduate student at UT Austin. A woman named Tchiya Amet, who was a friend and fellow grad student alleged that Tyson had raped her, though she only remembered a portion of the assault and believes he drugged her.
In December, Tyson responded to the allegations on Facebook. Tyson admitted to the encounters with Dr. Allers and Ashley Watson but claimed he had no idea at the time that either woman considered his behavior creepy. As for Amet, Tyson claimed he dated her and was “intimate” with her a few times but that her claim of rape is a false memory which is why she can’t really remember it. Her story does not jibe with that at all. She says she woke up during the rape but couldn’t move. And she does not suggest the two of them had ever had sex before.
A few days after Tyson published his response, a fourth accuser told her story to Buzzfeed. She claimed Tyson had approached her at a party in 2010 and began “making sexual jokes and propositioning her to join him alone in his office.” She told two other people about it that night and four years later she encouraged wrote to her employer to discourage them from partnering with Tyson on a proposed collaboration.
I guess Nat Geo has decided enough time has passed that they can get back to business as usual. Their decision to say nothing about their reasoning seems odd. If Tyson was cleared, why wouldn’t you want to share that information?