Neil deGrasse Tyson ‘welcomes’ investigations into his alleged sexual harassmentDecember 3, 2018
Neil deGrasse Tyson is a “rock star” in the scientific world – he’s a charismatic educator, broadcaster and STEM advocate with multiple TV deals and speaking/lecturing gigs. But there seems to be a dark side to all of his rock-starring. In October 2014, a woman who was a graduate student with deGrasse Tyson at the University of Texas at Austin wrote on her blog that he had drugged and raped her years beforehand. In the past week, two additional women have come forward to tell their stories about deGrasse Tyson. Dr. Katelyn N. Allers told Patheos that deGrasse Tyson felt her up at a 2009 party, while he seemingly was trying to look at all of her tattoos. She says now that it likely didn’t rise to the level of assault, but she describes him as “creepy” and says that “my experience with him is he’s not someone who has great respect for female bodily autonomy.” A third woman, named Ashley Watson, says that she was forced to quit her job as his assistant after he repeatedly sexually harassed her.
Well, deGrasse Tyson has decided to respond to these accusations one by one – you can read his lengthy Facebook post on the topic here. Here’s the main crux:
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. Emotions bypass due-process, people choose sides, and the social media wars begin.
In any claim, evidence matters. Evidence always matters. 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.
I’ve recently been publically accused of sexual misconduct. These accusations have received a fair amount of press in the past forty-eight hours, unaccompanied by my reactions. In many cases, it’s not the media’s fault. I declined comment on the grounds that serious accusations should not be adjudicated in the press. But clearly I cannot continue to stay silent.
… I’m the accused, so why believe anything I say? Why believe me at all?
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.
[From Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Facebook]
As I said, you can read the full Facebook post if you want to read his explanations for each incident. He clearly remembers each woman and he’s not pulling a “don’t know her” on any of his accusers. After reading his post, I felt like he was probably creepy with women, and probably crossed the line with colleagues, coworkers and subordinates quite often, but that he doesn’t realize how creepy he seems to some women. As he says, there should be full investigations and I hope these accusations aren’t swept under the rug.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.
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