NOTE: This article contains sexual language and may be triggering for some readers. Please read at your own discretion.
The current season of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s StarTalk series is on hold amid sexual misconduct claims against the prominent astrophysicist.
The National Geographic channel said Thursday new episodes of the science-based talk show won’t air until an investigation involving Tyson is completed, which could be within the next few weeks.
Late last November, National Geographic Networks and Fox said they would examine claims that Tyson behaved in a sexually inappropriate manner toward two women.
Tyson was host of Cosmos: Possible Worlds on Fox in 2014. A new edition of the series was set to air in March on the network and on National Geographic.
In a statement, the producers of Cosmos said: “The credo at the heart of Cosmos is to follow the evidence wherever it leads. The producers of Cosmos can do no less in this situation.”
They also said they will conduct a thorough investigation.
In November, Patheos.com published accounts from two women who say that Tyson behaved in a sexually inappropriate manner with them.
Tyson has denied an accusation that he groped a woman and denied making sexual advances toward a production assistant at his home. Tyson also apologized for making the assistant feel uncomfortable.
“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,” Tyson wrote in the Facebook post. “Emotions bypass due-process, people choose sides, and the social media wars begin.”
He continued: “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.”
“A colleague at a well attended, after-conference, social gathering came up to me to ask for a photograph. She was wearing a sleeveless dress with a tattooed solar system extending up her arm. And while I don’t explicitly remember searching for Pluto at the top of her shoulder, it is surely something I would have done in that situation,” he wrote on Facebook.
“As we all know, I have professional history with the demotion of Pluto, which had occurred officially just three years earlier. So whether people include it or not in their tattoos is of great interest to me. I was reported to have “groped” her by searching “up her dress”, when this was simply a search under the covered part of her shoulder of the sleeveless dress,” Tyson said.
“I only just learned (nine years after) that she thought this behavior creepy. 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,” he said.
He has said he will co-operate fully with an “impartial investigation.”
StarTalk began its fifth season Nov. 12, with a handful of episodes aired before the show was put on hold. Guests for the previously announced 20 episodes include former U.S. vice-president Al Gore, Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin, and actors Jack Black and Jeff Goldblum.
Besides numerous TV appearances, Tyson is also the director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse or is involved in an abusive situation, please visit the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime for help. They are also reachable toll-free at 1-877-232-2610.
—With files from the Associated Press