NatGeo Puts Neil deGrasse Tyson’s ‘StarTalk’ Show On Hiatus During Sexual Misconduct Investigation

American Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson speaks onstage during the Onward18 Conference - Day 1 on October 23, 2018 in New York City.
Craig Barritt / Getty Images

The National Geographic Channel has pulled Neil deGrasse Tyson’s popular StarTalk chat show from their current schedule, an article from Variety reports. As noted by the Inquisitr, Tyson has been embroiled in a sexual misconduct scandal since November of 2018 when two women came forward with accusations of unwanted sexual contact and advances. A third woman had previously claimed Tyson drugged and raped her when they were graduate students in the 1980s.

Following the newest accusations, Fox Networks Group announced they’d be performing an independent investigation, a move Neil deGrasse Tyson declared his support for on Facebook in his first public comments on the cases. The National Geographic Channel cited that investigation as the reason for Tyson’s continued absence on the network.

“In order to allow the investigation to occur unimpeded we chose to hold new episodes of ‘Star Talk’ until it is complete,” a NatGeo rep told Variety. “We expect that to happen in the next few weeks at which time we’ll make a final decision.”

The two most recent allegations were reported by Patheos and involve Tyson touching Dr. Katelyn N. Allers, an Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Bucknell University, in 2008. According to Allers, he was interested in a tattoo she had of the solar system on her arm.

“He looked for Pluto, and followed the tattoo into my dress,” Allers says.

“My experience with him is he’s not someone who has great respect for female bodily autonomy.”

The second allegation comes from Ashley Watson, a former assistant of Neil deGrasse Tyson who claims his inappropriate attempts to persuade her into sex forced her to quit her job. She detailed an encounter with Tyson in his apartment where he took his shirt off and made several sexually suggestive remarks before showing her a “Native American handshake” that involved holding hands tightly and feeling each others’ heartbeats.

In his Facebook statement made as Fox Networks Group announced their investigation, Neil deGrasse Tyson admits to touching Dr. Allers, but disagreed with the interpretation that he had “groped” her.

“I only just learned (nine years after) that she thought this behavior creepy,” Tyson wrote. “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.”

Tyson similarly admits to many of the details regarding Ashley Watson’s account, but denied having any ulterior motive that night in his apartment. He saved his most vehement denials for the 1980s rape charges from Tchiya Amet.

“According to her blog posts, the drug and rape allegation comes from an assumption of what happened to her during a night that she cannot remember,” he wrote. “It is as though a false memory had been implanted, which, because it never actually happened, had to be remembered as an evening she doesn’t remember.”

StarTalk isn’t the only show potentially affected by the current investigation. A second season of the Cosmos reboot has already been filmed and put through post-production with Neil deGrasse Tyson as narrator and host. Given the heavy amount of CG effects inherent in the show, replacing Tyson would be an expensive and time-consuming process for a program set to premiere in March. It wouldn’t be the first time such a change has happened, though. As NME reports, Ridley Scott spent $10 million replacing Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer in the film, All The Money In The World, after a number of allegations against Spacey were revealed.