Billionaire Elon Musk allegedly exposed himself to a flight attendant, sexually propositioned her, offered to buy her a horse, and later settled her claim against him for a quarter million dollars, according to an investigation from Insider.
The investigation, published Thursday by online news site Insider, said that Musk had sexually harassed the woman in 2016 while getting a massage on a private jet while traveling for his aerospace company, SpaceX. A friend of the flight attendant, with whom the flight attendant had confided about the alleged incident, said that Musk had rubbed the flight attendant’s leg, exposed his genitals, and offered her a horse to get her “to do more” than a massage, the article said.
SpaceX paid a $250,000 severance to the flight attendant in 2018 after she had contacted a lawyer, according to Insider. Both the flight attendant and her friend, who shared a signed declaration with Insider supporting the flight attendant’s story and that was used in the flight attendant’s complaint to SpaceX about the incident, were unidentified in the article.
Asked for comment, Musk told the publication that there was “a lot more to this story.” He added, “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 also called the story a “politically motivated hit piece.”
Musk, who is CEO of Tesla, did not elaborate on why he considered the article to be politically motivated. But the article comes a day after he tweeted that he would now vote Republican after previously voting mostly Democrat while alluding to future “dirty tricks”.
“In the past I voted Democrat, because they were (mostly) the kindness party,” he wrote. “But they have become the party of division & hate, so I can no longer support them and will vote Republican. Now, watch their dirty tricks campaign against me unfold …”
After the Insider article was published, Musk continued to call it politically motivated in a tweet late Thursday night.
“The attacks against me should be viewed through a political lens – this is their standard (despicable) playbook – but nothing will deter me from fighting for a good future and your right to free speech.”
“And, for the record, those wild accusations are utterly untrue,” he wrote in another tweet.
The incident allegedly took place in a private room aboard the flight to London. No other people were present to corroborate the story.
SpaceX declined to comment to Insider about incident or the payment to the flight attendant, who was barred from discussing any of it by the agreement. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment by Fortune.
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