Professor Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76. Hawking was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) when he was 21 years old. The disease, though slow-progressing, completely debilitated Hawking over the years, leaving him in a wheelchair and unable to speak on his own.
Long before his death, however, he may have been the victim of physical abuse. For years, Hawking denied that his now-ex-wife, Elaine Mason, was mistreating him, but stories from nurses who worked from him and even two of his own kids, Tim and Lucy, have told a very different story.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Hawking Had Various Bumps & Bruises all Over His Body & Even Suffered a Few Unexplained Broken Bones
Over the years, Hawking showed up at the hospital with various injuries ranging from fractured bones to severe sunburns. When doctors would ask him about these injuries, Hawking would not say how they came about.
Some of the injuries that Hawking suffered over the years include a broken arm, a split lip, and a broken femur.
According to the Sun, Mason was accused of “fracturing the professor’s wrist by slamming it on his wheelchair, humiliating him by refusing him access to a urine bottle and leaving him to wet himself, gashing his cheek with a razor, allowing him to slip beneath the water while in the bath, causing water to enter the tracheotomy site in his throat, leaving him alone in his garden on the hottest day of the year for so long that he suffered heatstroke and severe sunburn.”
Not long after Hawking and Mason’s divorce was filed, an unnamed woman spoke with the Daily Mail. The woman, who claimed to have worked for Hawking previously, told the outlet that Mason didn’t treat Hawking properly.
“Well I’m not surprised. Not surprised at all – I just wish it had happened a long, long time ago,” the woman said. “She is the reason I left. It’s the reason everyone leaves. It’s impossible to reconcile the way she treated Stephen with the ethics of our profession. I don’t want to say anymore because it brings back painful memories,” she added.
2. Hawking’s Daughter, Lucy, Has Spoken Out About the Alleged Abuse
Lucy Hawking spoke to the media about the alleged abuse. In fact, she gave a candid interview to Vanity Fair back in 2004 in which she discussed what she was told over the years — specifically when her dad was married to Mason.
She told the outlet that someone told her that they thought it was Mason who broke her dad’s wrist. This caused Lucy to reach out to an attorney, but her dad was against her interfering in his marriage.
“He asked me not to interfere in his relationship with Elaine,” Lucy told Vanity Fair.
However, in 2003, things got so bad that Lucy called the police. She got a call from one of her father’s caregivers who was very concerned about a severe sunburn.
“Well, I think he could be tortured to death, and I can’t let that happen! I have this horrible image of nothing happening,” she told Vanity Fair.
Lucy and her brother, Tim, never witnessed any physical abuse first-hand, but both said they had witnessed verbal abusive coming from Mason.
“They have known for years how volatile and verbally abusive Elaine can be.”
Tim has also spoken to the media about the claims.
“I believe quite strongly that it’s true, based on what I have been privy to in the past. It makes me feel sick, as I’m sure anyone would be in my position. I feel completely helpless. He denies it every time I speak to him and I would hope he would respect me enough to tell me the truth,” Tim previously told the Daily Mail.
3. Mason Was Investigated But Never Charged
After receiving concerning information about potential abuse, police launched an investigation. Both Hawking and Mason were interviewed in the process, as were another 10 people who were close to Hawking, either personally or professionally.
Unable to find enough evidence to charge Mason, police closed their investigation. On March 29, 2004, authorities deemed their investigation “extremely thorough,” and closed the case.
“There’s not a lot we can do about it,” a police source told Vanity Fair.
4. Hawking Consistently Denied Being Abused by Mason
Hawking never once publicly admitted that he was abused emotionally or physically. In fact, he denied any and all claims made against his then-wife.
“I firmly and wholeheartedly reject the allegations that I have been assaulted. The stories in the media are completely false, and I am profoundly disappointed by the circulation of such personal and inaccurate information,” Hawking said in a statement through Cambridge University, according to the New York Times. “My wife and I love each other very much, and it is only because of her that I am alive today. I request that the media respect my privacy and allow me to focus on recovering from my illness,” the statement concluded.
However, in a private setting, in the comfort of his own home, sources have said that Hawking had previously asked not to be left alone with Mason.
“I cannot be left alone with her. Please don’t go. Get someone to cover the shift,” Hawking typed on his computer, according to a source that spoke with Vanity Fair.
Many believed that Hawking didn’t want to speak up publicly because he was too “proud.”
“Prof Hawking has publicly denied such claims in the past. For a fiercely proud man who, though feted as possibly the world’s most famous living scientist, must rely on others to help him perform basic human functions, it surely would have been the final indignity: to be forced to deny that he is a battered husband,” the Daily Mail previously reported.
5. Hawking & Mason Divorced in 2006
Elaine Mason was Stephen Hawking’s second wife. The two tied the knot in 1995, after he split from his first wife, Jane Hawking.
Professor Hawking didn’t want to comment on his divorce, having his secretary, Judith Croasdell, respond to press inquiries with the following:
“He is far too busy. This is just a distraction which is really annoying. We don’t have any time for any of this. We have no interest in any of the gossip that is going on,” she said, according to the Evening Standard.
After their split, Hawking and Mason didn’t speak publicly of their marriage. Mason has remained completely out of the spotlight over the years. Hawking reconnected with his ex-wife (platonically) and their three children, spending time with them as a family.
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