CHICAGO — Some consider him to be the most famous scientist in the world. But now, Neil deGrasse Tyson is facing more accusations of sexual misconduct.
One of the accusers is from Chicago and shared her story with WGN’s Gaynor Hall.
Tchiya Amet El Maat said it was 1984. She was 23 and wanted to become an astronaut. She and Tyson were grad students in astrophysics at the University of Texas at Austin. One day after class, she says she went to his apartment.
“He asked me if I wanted a glass of water and I was like sure. And then I woke up naked on his bed,” she said, “I didn't know what had happened, what was happening and I couldn't move.”
She said he raped her.
“The next day I saw him in the hallway of the department and I asked him, ‘How did this happen? Why did this happen?’ And he said, ‘Because we're in this alone and we're in this together.’ And then he walked off.”
Amet said she told a university counselor about the incident. At the time, she didn’t go to police and she wasn’t encouraged to. Within months she dropped out of school, and over the decades, she said she blamed herself. She changed her name. She had kids, got married and divorced.
While her life was spiraling downward, his star was rising.
“When he would come on TV, I would get triggered and run into the other room,” she said. “I had gotten to the point where I had to speak out. I was borderline suicidal. I was very depressed and I didn't know what to do.”
There are now reports of three more women, accusing Tyson of sexual misconduct.
Amet first went public in 2010, years before #MeToo. She tried to confront him at the end of the Q and A at an event where he was on stage in a packed auditorium in San Francisco. She said the microphone was cut off, but the audience still heard her.
In 2014, she filed a police report with Austin Police. But the statute of limitations had passed.
She spoke with WGN in her Chicago home where she said she works as a cosmic sound healer and also writes music.
Over the weekend, Tyson took to Facebook to defend himself.
When asked what Amet would say to people who listened to her story and want to know why she waited so long, she said she’s “not really speaking out to get justice or revenge.”
“I'm not trying to get acceptance I don't really care what they think about me. That's how long it took me. You can't really say how long it takes someone to heal or come to terms with what happened. I was in a lot of pain and I didn't know why,” she said.
On Being Accused