Round-earther and television astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has been accused by both a colleague and a former assistant of sexual harassment. Those allegations follow a 2014 rape accusation made against him by musician Tchiya Amet who claims that Neil drugged and raped her when they were fellow graduate students in 1984. Suffice to say, his lovable TV science nerd persona has been called into question. Neil responded to the allegations in a long post on Facebook (the whole thing is after the cut). He admits to some questionable behavior but denies that he was consciously sexually harassing anyone and says that he was intimate with Ms. Amet on more than one occasion but that it was consensual. No one’s responded to my request from yesterday for someone to assure me that Bill Nye is still on the up-and-up. I’m going to need that after writing about this story.
Neil addresses Dr. Katelyn N. Allers’ claim that he went into her dress looking for her tattoo of Pluto at a science gathering as an exaggeration. Due to the seriousness of these accusations, it seems whiny to go into how Tyson is one of the people responsible for demoting Pluto from planet to dwarf planet and ruining my childhood science education. So I won’t.
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.
As for his former assistant Ashley Watson’s claims that he tried to pull a seduction scene on her with wine and cheese at his place, he confirms that the wine and cheese happened but denies trying to seduce her
She freely chose to come by for wine & cheese and I was delighted. In the car, we had started a long conversation that could continue unabated. Production days are long. We arrived late, but she was on her way home two hours later.
Afterwards, she came into my office to told me she was creeped out by the wine & cheese evening. 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.
He also says that he didn’t touch her until he laid some sort of Native American handshake strangeness on her when she was exiting. While not sounding inherently sexual, it does read super uncomfortable when you just spring it on someone like that. Especially after you’ve been slicing cheese with a carving knife and making stabbing jokes in a tank top which she claims he did earlier in the evening.
Further, I never touched her until I shook her hand upon departure. On that occasion, I had offered a special handshake, one I learned from a Native elder on reservation land at the edge of the Grand Canyon. 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.
As for the rape, Tyson says it was all consensual and also felt it was necessary to imply that his accuser is crazy.
For me, what was most significant, was that in this new life, long after dropping out of astrophysics graduate school, she was posting videos of colored tuning forks endowed with vibrational therapeutic energy that she channels from the orbiting planets. As a scientist, I found this odd.
He closes by saying that he welcomes the independent investigation that his bosses at FOX/NatGeo have said they are conducting into the allegations. And also notes:
I’m the accused, so why believe anything I say? Why believe me at all?
Probably not the best way to end your response to sexual harassment and rape allegations when you’re trying to deny those sexual harassment and rape allegations, but he’s the astrophysicist, I guess.