On Thursday two women came out against science enthusiast Neil Degrasse Tyson. Tyson is revered in the science community especially when it comes to outer space. So this came as a big surprise. The women claim that Tyson acted inappropriately but in both cases, there was barely any contact. Tyson in an attempt to get ahead these allegation posted to Facebook his account of what happened. He welcomes a full investigation from his employers as he feels he did not do anything in the neighborhood of sexual misconduct.
“The 2009 Incident
I am asked by thousands of people per year to take pictures with them. A flattering, time consuming, but delightful chore. As many in my fan-base can attest, I get almost giddy if I notice you’re wearing cosmic bling – clothing or jewelry or tattoos that portray the universe, either scientifically or artistically. And I make it a priority to point out these adornments for the photograph.
A colleague at a well attended, after-conference, social gathering came up to me to ask for a photograph. She was wearing a sleeveless dress with a tattooed solar system extending up her arm. And while I don’t explicitly remember searching for Pluto at the top of her shoulder, it is surely something I would have done in that situation. As we all know, I have a 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. I was reported to have “groped” her by searching “up her dress”, when this was simply a search under the covered part of her shoulder of the sleeveless dress.
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. 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.”
Watch The Clip Below.
Summer 2018 Incident
“While filming this past summer, I had a (female) Production Assistant assigned to me, to ensure, among her countless tasks, that every ounce of my energy was efficiently allocated to the production needs of the show. As part of this, she was also my driver, to and from the studio, ensuring that I arrive on time. In the car, we would review the details of the shoot and she would help me anticipate parts of the shoot to come.
Across the many weeks of shooting, she and I spent upwards of a hundred hours in one-on-one conversation. We became so friendly that we talked about all manner of subjects, even social-personal ones, like the care of aging parents, sibling relationships, life in high school and college, hometown hobbies, race, gender, and so forth. We also discussed less-personal topics in abundance, like rock lyrics, favorite songs in various musical genres, concert experiences, etc. And we also talked about food – I’m kind of a foodie, and her fiancé was a chef. In short, we had a fun, talkative friendship.
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.
Afterward, she came into my office to tell 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.
Further, I never touched her until I shook her hand upon departure. On that occasion, 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. I’ve never forgotten that handshake, and I save it in appreciation of people with whom I’ve developed new friendships.
At that last meeting in my office, I apologized profusely. She accepted the apology. And I assured her that had I known she was uncomfortable, I would have apologized on the spot, ended the evening, and possibly reminded her of the other social gathering that she could attend. She nonetheless declared it her last day, with only a few days left of production.
I note that her final gesture to me was the offer of a hug, which I accepted as a parting friend.”
The only variation on this story is that the woman alleges that during the encounter Tyson played romantic music and there was talk of “releases” and her personal needs. It could be that he was testing the waters to see if she was interested. But despite it being an attempt at being unfaithful, as he is a married man, it seems to be pretty above board.
These two cases seem to be overreactions. There was an additional case from 30 years ago, where a women believes she may have been raped but has no details as she claims she blacked out. She had seen Tyson a few times since the incident and never made any mention. But now that he has some notoriety in the scientific community saw it fit to come forward with this allegation. Tyson believes someone must have implanted this thought. He claims it never occurred.