SpaceX paid $250,000 to settle a sexual misconduct claim against Elon Musk after a flight attendant on the company’s corporate jet accused the CEO of exposing himself to her mid-flight, Insider reports.
According to Insider, the incident happened in 2016 and the company settled with the unnamed flight attendant in 2018, according to a friend of the flight attendant who was told contemporaneously about the incident but is not bound by any non-disclosure agreements with the company. Musk allegedly asked for a “full body massage” and offered to buy the flight attendant a horse if she would “do more.” Insider also notes that the flight attendant was encouraged pay out of her own pocket for professional massage training so that she could better serve Musk during flights.
It was during a massage amid a flight to London when Musk allegedly exposed himself and "propositioned" her. "He touched her thigh and told her he would buy her a horse," the friend said in describing the incident. "And he basically tried to bribe her to perform some sort of sexual favor."
The flight attendant reportedly refused Musk's advances, and later felt like she was being "punished" with fewer shifts at SpaceX. She settled with Musk in 2018 "after a session with a mediator that Musk personally attended," Insider says.
According to the report, Musk responded to questions by saying there was “a lot more to this story,” but didn’t elaborate. "If I were inclined to engage in sexual harassment, this is unlikely to be the first time in my entire 30-year career that it comes to light," he told the publication.
We've reached out to SpaceX for comment.
Update 5/20/22 1:06am ET: Musk has since taken to Twitter to respond to the allegations, calling them "utterly untrue" and referring to the friend of the unnamed SpaceX flight attendant a "liar." This would not be the first time Musk has made potentially defamatory statements against his perceived enemies on the site. Notably, Musk's tweets do not include any denial that SpaceX paid the former employee $250,000 to settle the alleged misconduct claim, or that she is currently under what Insider described as "restrictive non-disclosure and non-disparagement clauses that bar the attendant from ever discussing the severance payment or disclosing any information of any kind about Musk and his businesses."
And, for the record, those wild accusations are utterly untrue— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 20, 2022
But I have a challenge to this liar who claims their friend saw me “exposed” – describe just one thing, anything at all (scars, tattoos, …) that isn’t known by the public. She won’t be able to do so, because it never happened.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 20, 2022
In a separate tweet, Musk states that the "attacks against me should be viewed through a political lens" — though it's unclear if this is meant to refer to Insider, the whistleblower, or both.