Neil deGrasse Tyson on Sexual Misconduct Allegations: 'I Cannot Continue to Stay Silent'

Illustration for article titled Neil deGrasse Tyson on Sexual Misconduct Allegations: 'I Cannot Continue to Stay Silent'
Photo: Host Neil DeGrasse Tyson appears on the panel for “Cosmos” at the FOX Winter 2014 TCA, on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014, at the Langham Hotel in Pasadena, Calif. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

In response to sexual misconduct allegations levied against him, acclaimed astrophysicist and author Neil deGrasse Tyson has written a lengthy Facebook post titled “On Being Accused” in which he denies any wrongdoing.


“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?” he wrote. “That’s when people tend to pass judgment on who is more credible than whom.”

His response follows three separate accusations of sexual misconduct that have recently surfaced on the website Patheos—each of which he addresses and details his version of events in his Facebook post.

In explaining the most recent incident, which occurred this summer and involved his production assistant Ashley Watson, he states the following:

She is a talented, warm and friendly person — excellent traits for morale on a high pressure production. Practically everyone she knows on set gets a daily welcome-hug from her. 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.

In the final week of shooting, with just a few days left, as a capstone of our friendship, I invited her to wine & cheese at my place upon dropping me off from work. No pressure. I serve wine & cheese often to visitors. And I even alerted her that others from the production were gathering elsewhere that evening, so she could just drop me off and head straight there or anywhere elsewhere. 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.

In further declaring his innocence, the Hayden Planetarium director makes it clear that he welcomes an impartial investigation by the producers of his show Cosmos.

“Accusations can damage a reputation and a marriage. Sometimes irreversibly,” he wrote. “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.”

Menace to supremacy. Founder of Extraordinary Ideas and co-host and producer of The Extraordinary Negroes podcast. Impatiently waiting for y'all to stop putting sugar in grits.


Downton Flabby (the movie)

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.

Dude, please just stop.