Neil D. Tyson was investigated by Fox and Nat Geo for sexual misconduct, the investigation complete Cosmos and Star Talk will return to the air. This investigation would always have been of limited scope and shows at least he is no Harvey Weinstein or Bill Ayers. A completed investigation by Fox and Nat Geo is not a trial nor does it have to be.  The questions before a corporate investigator are not those that would be in front of a court of civil or criminal law.  Their question is, did Dr. Tyson do anything which could bring liability upon the company?  If not, then they are in the clear. Corporate investigators job is to protect the company from liability and, as a byproduct, create working environments which are not hostile.    This is the statement given to Variety

“‘StarTalk’ will return to the air with the remaining 13 episodes in April on National Geographic, and both Fox and National Geographic are committed to finding an air date for ‘Cosmos,'” the network said in a statement. “There will be no further comment.”

Well that clears things right up, end sarcasm.

What Might That Mean Between The Lines

As a long-time observer of this story, and one who knows a bit about corporate policy making, this is my analysis and opinion.

Does this statement mean he didn’t do any of what he was accused of?  No.  This may mean that he didn’t do anything in the workplace itself that the investigation was able to substantiate within its mandate. 

Investigators working for Fox and Nat Geo would only be concerned with that which took place during his work for the corporation and/or on its property.  None of the allegations were that he did anything during work hours while filming Cosmos or taping Star Talk.  Let us review them briefly.

The allegations by Tchiya Amet  are for acts that took place in the 1980’s.  If true would’ve been at his apartment while a student at UT Austin.  Corporate investigators at Fox and Nat Geo would not be interested in that.  For this would be up to investigators in Texas where rape has no statute of limitations. Stranger things have happened than someone being prosecuted for this sort of thing after decades past.

The allegation by Dr Katelyn Allers (as reported by David G McAfeee of Patheos) is about actions he was caught on camera taking but not on any property of Fox or Nat Geo and not while doing anything connected to them.   So that would not be of concern to them.

The one allegation that perhaps had the attention of Fox and Nat Geo investigators are those made by Ashely Watson (As reported by Azeen Ghorayshi of Buzzfeed) .   The allegation where Tyson invited the young lady to his apartment and allegedly spoke of how people need… “releases”. *  Even if 100% true he didn’t force her to go to his apartment, he didn’t do anything while on set or on Fox property, he waited until the filming was done to make a move.   IF what Ms Watson said is true Dr Tyson may have held out the possibility of further work with the implication that release would secure said work.   That is a transaction that is known to be common in entertainment, as in the fabled casting couch.   That may be creepy but if a tv studio punished every star that did that they’d not have any left.

In short, investigation complete does not mean innocent.  It probably just means that Dr. Tyson didn’t expose Fox and Nat Geo to any liability.    That would be the only real concern of a corporate investigator.

For their purposes, Fox and Nat Geo can go ahead and make money off his entertainment products.

Of course, a fuller statement by Fox and Nat Geo would answer these questions.  Maybe they did look further afield. Maybe they did find some exculpatory evidence.  I’d love to hear of it. The brevity and terseness of the statement makes me think they did no such thing.

This IS A Good Sign For Neil D. Tyson. 

This statement means he is not another Harvey Weinstein or Bill Ayers at the very least.  It is an arrow pointing in the direction of his innocence.   

 Having his shows back on the air, is a way for him to get more good press.  Over time this issue will fade from consciousness.  However, so did the allegations against Michael Jackson and R. Kelly. 

For now, at least, this is an issue that will have to be at rest until new information is found.   As a nation of laws, we don’t shun people because of allegations that have not been proven.   As a nation of laws, we investigate, we file lawsuits if we can, we go to court and live with the outcome.  If we can’t go to court, we live with the, and we move on.

For now, at least, while I feel great sympathy for Tchiya Amet, Ashely Watson and Dr Katelyn Allers I for one will watch the next season of Cosmos.    Until proven guilty we treat people as though they are innocent.  Such is the American way.  

An interesting take from Adam Conover.

*That is the way an astrophysicist would say it though isn’t it.  Like it’s a supernova or something.