Neil deGrasse Tyson Speaks On Sexual Misconduct Claims: “Why believe me at all?”

Neil deGrasse Tyson responded to the sexual misconduct allegations against him in a lengthy Facebook post titled “On Being Accused,” posted Saturday. The post is over 1,500 words and addresses particular accusations head on, and welcomes the internal investigation Fox and National Geographic have opened.

“I’m the accused, so why believe anything I say? Why believe me at all?” he wrote. “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 started the post by noting a claim from 2009, which was filed by Dr. Katelyn N. Allers, Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Bucknell University, according to the website Patheos. Allers claimed she was “felt up” by Tyson at the after party of a American Astronomical Society meeting. Tyson saw the incident differently.

Tyson claimed he lifted the woman’s dress sleeve slightly to follow solar system. He said he doesn’t remember the incident, but this is something he would have done as he’s fascinated by tattoos pertaining to the universe.

“Had I been told of her discomfort in the moment, I would have offered this same apology eagerly, and on the spot,” he said. “In my mind’s eye, I’m a friendly and accessible guy, but going forward, I can surely be more sensitive to people’s personal space, even in the midst of my planetary enthusiasm.”

Tyson also spoke vividly on his assistant and driver, Ashley Watson, who quit her job based on discomfort from sexual advances and misogynistic comments, Patheos reported. In his post, Tyson admits the pair spoke about gender, among other casual topics, and details he once invited her over for wine and cheese after work. He noted he may have made her uncomfortable with a sexually-based comment he had repeated.

“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.”

Watson also, according to deGrasse Tyson, said she was made uncomfortable by the wine and cheese night. “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 addressed the allegation he raped and drugged a fellow grad student in the 1980s. “according to her blog posts, the drug and rape allegation comes from an assumption of what happened to her during a night that she cannot remember. It is as though a false memory had been implanted, which, because it never actually happened, had to be remembered as an evening she doesn’t remember,” Tyson wrote. “Nor does she remember waking up the next morning and going to the office. I kept a record of everything she posted, in case her stories morphed over time.  So this is sad, which, for me, defies explanation.”

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