Four women have publicly accused Neil deGrasse Tyson of sexual misconduct. BuzzFeed published a story on Wednesday that went deeper into long-standing rape allegations against the famed astrophysicist, also examining the sexual misconduct claims of his former assistant Ashley Watson and astronomy professor Katelyn Allers before revealing a fourth allegation.
In the piece, the unnamed fourth accuser alleges that Tyson made inappropriate comments toward her and asked her to join him in his office during a holiday party at the American Museum of Natural History. The allegations are similar in nature to those published by Watson and Allers on Nov. 29.
Allers claims that Tyson touched her inappropriately while remarking on her solar system tattoo. She said that the Cosmos host looked down her dress and ran his fingers up her arm under the guise of looking for farther-out planets. She said that she felt compelled to share her story to lend credence to Tchiya Amet's rape allegations.
“I saw that her credibility was being questioned in a way that honestly had a lot of racist and sexist and anti-religious undertones,” Allers told the website. “I kinda figured if I had any credibility to lend to that so that she’s taken more seriously, I should do that.”
Watson claims she left her position as Tyson's assistant after he made inappropriate comments and made her feel uncomfortable while sharing a drink in Tyson's apartment. Watson told BuzzFeed she agreed to go up to his apartment because she believed Tyson was going to offer her a promotion.
She said that Tyson began to describe a need for "physical release" and closed their time together by nothing that if he hugged her, he would "just want more."
The fourth accuser said Tyson's reputation as a truth-teller is what's protecting him. So she felt the need to add the weight of her allegations to the two prior claims of misconduct and one of rape. “We take his word at face value,” she said. “I think he's exploiting that relationship to get people to believe him.”
The renewed interest in the allegations of Tchiya Amet, who holds that Tyson raped her while they were both students at the University of Texas, led to a statement on Tyson's Facebook.
“I remember being intimate only a few times, all at her apartment, but the chemistry wasn’t there,” Tyson wrote of his time with Amet. “So the relationship faded quickly. There was nothing otherwise odd or unusual about this friendship.”
He went on to question Amet's reliability, citing her New Age belief systems. "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,” he wrote. “Meanwhile, 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.”
He also shared his version of the events published by Allers and Watson. To Allers' Pluto-searching claims, he explained his version of events before apologizing. "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," he said. "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."
The production team behind Cosmos shared a statement, telling BuzzFeed that they planned to investigate all allegations. “The credo at the heart of COSMOS is to follow the evidence wherever it leads,” said a statement from the show’s producers. “The producers of COSMOS can do no less in this situation. We are committed to a thorough investigation of this matter and to act accordingly as soon as it is concluded."