Elon Musk accused of sexual misconduct with SpaceX-employed flight attendant: Report

Elon Musk, discriminatory suit
Elon Musk has made a number of publicly discriminatory remarks about women, it was charged | File Image

World’s richest man Elon Musk propositioned a flight attendant for sex and exposed himself to her during a flight to London, according to a Business Insider report, dismissed as a a “politically motivated hit piece” by Musk.

Insider, citing documents and interviews with a friend of the attendant, reported that SpaceX, which employed the flight attendant, paid her $250,000 to settle the sexual misconduct claim two years later in 2018.

The attendant accused Musk of exposing his erect penis to her, rubbing her leg without consent, and offering to buy her a horse in exchange for an erotic massage, the Business Insider report said.

The flight attendant had filed a declaration about the incident through a friend who shared it and other documents with the Insider.

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According to the declaration, the flight attendant was asked by senior SpaceX officials to get licensed as a masseuse “on her own time and dime”.

“They encouraged her to get licensed as a masseuse, but on her own time, on her own dime,” the friend was quoted as saying by the news portal. “They implied that she would get to fly more often if she were to do this because she’d be able to give Elon proper massages. I thought that was kind of strange because — you weren’t hired to be a masseuse. You were hired to be a flight attendant. And if Elon likes massages, then he should be paying for you to go to masseuse school. But she was just so happy and eager to have the job and be able to travel.”

Once she got licensed in massage therapy, one day in late 2016, Musk called her to his private cabin on Gulfstream G650ER “for a full body massage”, according to the declaration.

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She found Musk “was completely naked except for a sheet covering the lower half of his body” and during the massage, Musk “exposed his genitals” and “touched her and offered to buy her a horse if she would ‘do more,’ referring to the performance of sex acts”, the declaration quoted by Insider says. She declined and continued with the massage without engaging in any sexual conduct.

The friend told the Insider that he exposed his genitals and even touched the attendant’s thighs. “He basically tried to bribe her to perform some sort of sexual favor.”

The attendant then disclosed the incident to the friend during a hike shortly after the London trip and the friend said she was “really upset” and did not know what to do. After that, the attendant felt “she was being pushed out and punished” at her workplace “for refusing to prostitute herself”, the report said quoting the declaration.

She then hired a California employment lawyer and sent a complaint to the company’s human resources department detailing the episode. The attorney’s firm contacted the friend and asked her to prepare the declaration corroborating the claims. The complaint was resolved quickly through a mediator in a session that Musk personally attended, without reaching court.

A settlement agreement was reached between Musk, SpaceX and the flight attendant in November 2018 wherein she was asked to promise not to sue over the claims or disclose any details of the complaint, severance payment, Musk or his businesses, including SpaceX and Tesla.

While the flight attendant is bound by the non-disclosure agreement (NDA), the friend is not bound by any such legal framework. A few months after the settlement was signed, California passed a law that barred the use of NDA in settlements involving sexual harassment, discrimination, or assault unless requested by the plaintiff.

Musk initially told the Insider that there is “a lot more to this story”. “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 wrote to Insider in an email, calling the story a “politically motivated hit piece”.

He did not respond later to the Insider’s requests for comments. SpaceX and Tesla officials and the flight attendant’s attorney refused to comment, the portal said.

Musk later hit back at the friend through a tweet, saying: “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.”

“And, for the record, those wild accusations are utterly untrue.”

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