Neil deGrasse Tyson Denies Sexual Misconduct Allegations, Says He Is Only Guilty In 'Court of Public Opinion'

Neil deGrasse Tyson Cosmos

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has responded to a wave of sexual misconduct allegations, just one day after Fox and NatGeo announced that they would investigate the claims.

“For a variety of reasons, most justified, some unjustified, men accused of sexual impropriety in today’s ‘me-too’ climate are presumed to be guilty by the court of public opinion,” the Cosmos host writes in a lengthy Facebook post. “Emotions bypass due-process, people choose sides, and the social media wars begin.

“In any claim, evidence matters. Evidence always matters,” Tyson continues. “But what happens when it’s just one person’s word against another’s, and the stories don’t agree? That’s when people tend to pass judgment on who is more credible than whom. And that’s when an impartial investigation can best serve the truth – and would have my full cooperation to do so.”

What follows is Tyson’s attempt to address each accusation individually. He begins with Bucknell professor Dr. Katelyn N. Allers, who alleged that Tyson groped her at an after-party for the American Astronomical Society in 2009:

She was wearing a sleeveless dress with a tattooed solar system extending up her arm. And while I don’t explicitly remember searching for Pluto at the top of her shoulder, 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. So whether people include it or not in their tattoos is of great interest to me. 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.

Next, Tyson addresses an accusation made by production assistant Ashley Watson, who said that she was forced to quit her job over Tyson’s inappropriate sexual advances. According to Tyson, he frequently rejected hugs from Watson, and on one occasion, chose his words poorly:

I 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 goes on to disclose that he invited Watson to his home for wine and cheese upon dropping him off from work, prefacing that he frequently serves wine and cheese to visitors. She supposedly accepted his invitation, and the night ended with a handshake.

Afterwards, she came into my office [and] told me she was creeped out by the wine and cheese evening. She viewed the invite as an attempt to seduce her, even though she sat across the wine and cheese table from me, and all conversation had been in the same vein as all other conversations we ever had.

Last but not least, Tyson denies an earlier rape accusation made by a fellow former graduate student, Tchiya Amet:

I had a brief relationship with a fellow astro-graduate student, from a more recent entering class. 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.

Tyson concludes his post by stating that “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.”

Tyson’s full statement can be read here.