Image: Hawking
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Stephen Hawking achieved international prominence in 1988 with "A Brief History of Time," which examined the origin of the universe and was translated into 30 languages
updated 1/23/2004 3:57:53 PM ET 2004-01-23T20:57:53

Famed astrophysicist Stephen Hawking said Friday that allegations he was abused are “completely false,” but his ex-wife urged police to investigate reports that he suffered a series of unexplained injuries.

An inquiry was triggered by nursing staff who contacted police in the summer after Hawking — who is paralyzed and uses a wheelchair — was left stranded in his garden on the hottest day of the year and suffered severe heatstroke and sunburn.

“I firmly and wholeheartedly reject the allegations that I have been assaulted,” Hawking said in a statement issued Friday through Cambridge University.

“The stories in the media are completely false, and I am profoundly disappointed by the circulation of such personal and inaccurate information,” said Hawking, who is hospitalized in Cambridge with pneumonia. Police say they plan to interview Hawking when he recovers.

Ex-wife weighs in
Citing news reports that Hawking has suffered mysterious injuries including a broken wrist, gashes to the face and a cut lip, his ex-wife, Jane, said by telephone that she had long suspected he was being assaulted.

Cambridgeshire police have released no details about their investigation, which is likely to take several weeks.

Newspaper reports have contained sometimes lurid allegations attributed to unidentified nurses and others who have cared for Hawking, 62, who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

“The police can’t be allowed to drop the investigation. I just hope not,” said Jane Hawking, who has remarried but uses her former surname.

Repeatedly, their three adult children have asked their father what was wrong when his full-time nurses reported an unexplained injury, and each time he refused to take any action, she said.

A Cambridgeshire police source confirmed a report in The Times newspaper that a nurse who once treated Hawking but now lives overseas will return to Cambridge for questioning.

Plea for privacy
Jane Hawking and the scientist were married for 26 years. After their divorce, Hawking married his nurse, Elaine Mason, in 1995.

“My wife and I love each other very much, and it is only because of her that I am alive today,” Hawking said in his statement Friday. “I request that the media respect my privacy, and allow me to focus on recovering from my illness.”

Hawking is the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, a post once held by Sir Isaac Newton, and the author of the best-selling book “A Brief History of Time.”

Over 40 years, his disease had deprived him of the ability to speak or move. He can move some fingers, which he uses to operate a computerized voice box.

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