Another woman has come forward accusing physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson of sexual misconduct, alleging that he sexually harassed her at a holiday party in 2010.
The woman, who has not been named, shared her story with BuzzFeed News:
In January 2010, she recalled, she joined her then-boyfriend at a holiday party for employees of the American Museum of Natural History. Tyson, its most famous employee, drunkenly approached her, she said, making sexual jokes and propositioning her to join him alone in his office. In a 2014 email shared with BuzzFeed News, she described the incident to her own employer in order to shoot down a proposed collaboration with Tyson.
The woman is the fourth person to accuse Tyson, director of the museum’s Hayden Planetarium and host of science documentary TV show Cosmos, of inappropriate behavior. But the allegations against one of the most famous scientists in the world (and the most visible black scientist), had largely gone ignored.
In 2014, a woman named Tchiya Amet alleged that in the 1980s, when they were both graduate students at University of Texas—Austin, deGrasse Tyson drugged and raped her. The alleged incident derailed Amet’s career and inflicted significant stress and trauma that affected her relationships while Tyson went on to become one of the most beloved and high-profile scientists in the nation.
Her story was dismissed and mostly forgotten until recently, when Ashley Watson, Tyson’s former driver, alleged Tyson of sexually harassing her last summer. Watson reached out to Amet, BuzzFeed reports, via social media to offer support. A third woman, Bucknell University astronomy and physics professor Katelyn Allers, alleges that Tyson grabbed her arm and “followed the tattoo into my dress” at a conference in 2009. Both women credited Amet with their ability to come forward, via BuzzFeed:
For years, Amet had been trying to make the world listen to her account of a powerful man who had once assaulted her and derailed her life. Mainstream publications, including BuzzFeed News, were unable to adequately corroborate the events from so long ago, and did not publish her allegations. And internet commenters assailed her character and New Age lifestyle. Her claims may have stayed buried forever, if not for the women who saw in Amet’s story a shadow of their own.
“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 said. “I kinda figured if I had any credibility to lend to that so that she’s taken more seriously, I should do that.”
The women told BuzzFeed that Tyson’s advances, which took place in professional settings, were “a clear abuse of power” and should be considered harassment. Tyson responded to the allegations on Saturday, acknowledging the incidences with Watson and Allers, but chalking it up to a misunderstanding. But that response “ignored the real pain and discomfort that he caused under the guise of playfulness and goodwill,” they told the outlet.
Of Amet’s allegation, Tyson questioned her credibility on account of her interest in new age philosophy, and her memory: “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,” he wrote. He did not respond to BuzzFeed’s request for comment.
Anne Canty, the spokesperson for the American Museum of Natural History, said they are investigating the allegations “to the extent we are able to ascertain the facts.”
Producers of Cosmos told BuzzFeed that they are “committed to a thorough investigation of this matter and to act accordingly as soon as it is concluded.” Fox Broadcasting Company and National Geographic did not offer comment.