Most readers of this blog would likely have heard about the charges swirling around Neil deGrasee Tyson about his behavior around women. Azeen Ghorayshi has a long piece about the allegations made against Tyson, including new claims by a fourth woman. It goes into great detail, provides a great deal more background on the rape accuser Tchiya Amet than I had seen before, and has accounts from many people other than the four women.
Now a fourth woman has told BuzzFeed News her experience of sexual harassment from Tyson. 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.
Over the course of nearly three years, BuzzFeed News has spoken with more than 30 people for this story, including the alleged victims and their families, Cosmos crew members, and graduate students and professors who were at UT Austin 30 years ago. Dozens more from that time did not reply to requests for interviews.
There was one new twist to a previously told story. In the earlier accounts, Tyson had said that he had playfully wanted to see more of an astronomy tattoo on Katelyn Allers’s upper arm and had looked up her sleeve “looking for Pluto”. But this story says that it was more than that, and that he “reached down the front of her dress to look at her tattoo”.
Allers described an incident in 2009, at a party during the American Astronomical Society conference in Long Beach, California. She and her friend Trent Dupuy, both young researchers at the time, approached Tyson for a photo, she told BuzzFeed News.
As they chatted, Tyson grabbed her arm to get a better look at a large tattoo of the solar system that extended up her arm, shoulder, and chest. Tyson repeatedly told her he was “looking for Pluto,” which “involved him reaching into my dress and sort of looking down it,” Allers told BuzzFeed News. “It was an invasion of my space, inappropriate and sexual,” she said.
Tyson turned down requests for an interview for this article.
The American Museum of Natural History and the producers of the Cosmos TV series that Tyson hosts have said they are investigating.