It might just be a safer method to assume every man is a monster until proven innocent these days. For all the good that the #MeToo movement has done, it’s also lost us a lot of heroes (rest in hell, Bill Cosby). And by that, I mean, our heroes also happened to be sexual assaulters and when women came forward, nobody listened to them until now because society has been trained to blame women for sex crimes. The latest disappointment is astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson of “Cosmos” and director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History.
A woman named Tchiya Amet, who studied with Tyson in graduate school, accused him of drugging and raping her in 1984. She remembers being offered a drink of water from a coconut shell, passing out, and then waking up to being on his bed while he performed oral sex on her. When Tyson realized Amet was awake, she recalls him penetrating her before she passed out again. Tyson, of course, denies this account, claiming they dating briefly (Amet says they were always just friends) and were intimate, but the chemistry wasn’t there. Yeah, I’m not the astrophysicist here, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t take a doctorate degree to conclude that chemistry wouldn’t be there with someone you assaulted while sleeping.
Amet went public with the allegations in 2010 and (surprise!) nobody noticed or cared. Amet described the silence that her allegations received as, “It was like you could hear a pin drop.” However, she fought on like a total badass and even approached him personally at a public appearance in San Francisco, confronting him about the incident. She wrote about it again on her personal blog and on Twitter in 2016. She told David G. McAfee at Patheos and he later published an interview with her in November 2018. Finally, her case got the attention it deserved. Isn’t it great it only took approximately 2,081 years for women to be believed?
Don’t worry, though, it gets worse again! In Tyson’s denial, in the form of a public Facebook post, he also addresses two other accusations. One of them was from his 29-year-old assistant, Ashley Watson, who reported that Tyson invited her to his house for wine and cheese, started to play romantic music, gave her a “Native American handshake,” and told her that he wanted to hug her, but he was afraid he’d “just want more.” Watson reported the interaction with her supervisor at “Cosmos” and confronted him herself. Eventually, she felt she needed to quit working for him, which is the second promising career Tyson’s actions interrupted considering Amet, who also now suffers from PTSD, dropped out of school. In addition to Amet and Watson, an associate professor of physics and astronomy at Bucknell University, Katelyn Allers, and a woman who met Tyson at a holiday party for The Museum of Natural History Employees, have their own set of allegations of sexual misconduct by Tyson.
Tyson has not yet been charged with any crimes, and he is reportedly so confident in his innocence that he welcomes the investigation now underway by Fox and the National Geographic Channel. Amet hasn’t been contacted about the investigation, but let’s all hope she gets the justice she deserves.
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