Last week, news broke that Neil deGrasse Tyson has been accused of sexual misconduct by two women who made it clear that their experiences have made them extremely inclined to believe a rape accusation against Tyson that failed to garner attention even after it was resurfaced in the opening salvos of #MeToo.
All of that is rapidly changing.
Yesterday, BuzzFeed News published a lengthy investigation into Tyson that has been in the works for “nearly three years.” And while that investigation was initially focused on Tchiya Amet’s allegation that Tyson drugged and raped her in 1984 while they were grad students at University of Texas at Austin, BuzzFeed News made contact with the two new accusers and corroborated portions of their stories that made their accounts all the more damning.
On top of that, a fourth woman has come forward.
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.
As of this writing, Tyson hasn’t written another shitty Facebook post where he not so subtly dismisses his alleged victim’s credibility by pointing out that she gives hugs or can get pregnant, which is literally what he did with the last batch. But you know, give him a minute.
In the meantime, the BuzzFeed News report is absolutely worth your click because it spends a considerable amount of time addressing Amet’s rape accusation while highlighting not only how it fell to the wayside, but how Tyson has been protected.
Most of the people interviewed lamented the prospect that damaging allegations might take down the world’s most famous living scientist — and perhaps the most famous black scientist in history — beloved for eviscerating so many of the stereotypes of the stuffy, out-of-touch academic.
But for Watson and Allers, the tragedy was the loss of a different black scientist: Amet.
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.”
It should be noted that neither Dr. Katelyn N. Allers or Ashley Watson would have come forward if it weren’t for David Gee at No Sacred Cows who continued to pursue Amet’s rape allegations even while remaining skeptical about her claims, yet increasingly puzzled at Tyson supporters who didn’t want any sort of investigation. At all. So in early November 2018, Gee published an interview with Amet that raised serious questions about why her story was either dismissed or attacked by the scientific community. Part of that reason was because of Amet’s initial blog post that included astrology and unorthodox spiritual beliefs, which Tyson made it a point to highlight in his smug Facebook statement.
From No Sacred Cows:
It’s worth mentioning that I asked Amet about her spiritual beliefs, and she said she took them on after the alleged incident as a form of “healing.” A private investigator I’m working with on this case says that could be a coping mechanism if she was victimized.
Unfortunately, when it comes to allegations of sexual assault, the evidence often comes down to who is more credible: the victim or the accused, and guess how well that goes for the victim. (The answer you’re looking for is every flavor of awful under the sun.) Of course, what should be concerning is when the accused very clearly grasps that dynamic and openly admits at much on social media while calling for an investigation that he knows is going to go great for him and not just because it’ll be conducted by two entities with a financial interest in finding him not guilty quick as shit.
That’d be messed up, right?
“For a variety of reasons, most justified, some unjustified, men accused of sexual impropriety in today’s ‘me-too’ climate are presumed to be guilty by the court of public opinion. Emotions bypass due-process, people choose sides, and the social media wars begin.
In any claim, evidence matters. Evidence always matters. But what happens when it’s just one person’s word against another’s, and the stories don’t agree? That’s when people tend to pass judgment on who is more credible than whom. And that’s when an impartial investigation can best serve the truth - and would have my full cooperation to do so.”
- Neil deGrasse Tyson, December 1, 2018
Header Image Source: Getty