PETALING JAYA, May 20 — Aerospace company Space X reportedly paid a flight attendant US$250,000 (approximately RM1.09 mil) to cover up a claim of sexual misconduct against its founder Elon Musk.
According to Insider, the flight attendant accused Musk of exposing his genitals to her and rubbing her leg without her consent.
She also claimed that Musk had also offered to buy her a horse in exchange for an erotic massage.
Musk, meanwhile, has called the allegations against him as politically-motivated “attacks”.
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— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 20, 2022
Insider reported that the incident, which took place in 2016, was brought to light via a declaration made by the flight attendant’s friend as well as other documents to support her claim.
Musk had allegedly “propositioned” the flight attendant as she was giving him a massage during a flight to London.
According to the report, the attendant told the friend that she was encouraged to get licenced as a masseuse — on her own money and time — so that she could give Musk massages.
Describing the incident in further detail to Insider, the friend said that Musk “whipped out his penis, it was erect”, and “touched her thigh and told her he would buy her a horse”.
“And he basically tried to bribe her to perform some sort of sexual favour.”
After reportedly refusing Musk’s offer, the flight attendant later felt like she was being “punished” with fewer shifts at her job.
The claim was reportedly settled in 2018, where the attendant was granted payment in exchange for a promise not to sue.
Insider notes that the agreement contained non-disclosure and non-disparagement clauses, which effectively bar the attendant from discussing the matter.
The friend spoke to Insider on condition of anonymity out of fear for her safety, but “felt a responsibility to come forward” about abuse of power by “the world’s richest man”.
“There are predators all over the world,” said the friend.
“But when someone is particularly wealthy and powerful, they literally have systems that are like a machine working for them, to set them up to be able to do whatever they want.”
Musk told the outlet that the story was a “politically motivated hit piece” and requested more time to respond to the allegations.
“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 Insider.
Despite extending the deadline, Insider reported that Musk did not comment any further.
A day before the story’s publication, Musk posted a tweet regarding his voting choices, cryptically adding that there would be a “dirty tricks campaign” against him.
In the past I voted Democrat, because they were (mostly) the kindness party.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 ...— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 18, 2022
While this is the first known accusation made against Musk personally, Space X has been dogged by allegations of sexual harassment.
Last December, former Space X engineer Ashley Kosak published an essay on Lioness, a platform for whistleblowers of workplace misconduct.
Recounting her experiences of being groped and harassed by male employees, Kosak said the company was “so rife with sexism, the only remedy is for women to leave”.
Following Kosak’s essay, four more former employees spoke to The Verge to recount their own experiences of harassment.
According to The Verge, these employees agreed that Space X was “boys’ club” and felt that management was reluctant to reprimand some men for poor behaviour.
Meanwhile at car-maker Tesla, where Musk is CEO, dozens of former employees have claimed that slurs, groping and catcalling were rife.
According to an Insider report from March, at least 46 lawsuits have been filed against Tesla for either sexual harassment, or discrimination based on race or gender.
Among the claims quoted by Insider include a woman who said the catcalling and groping was so bad that she took to stacking boxes around her workstation to “discourage men from whistling and ogling at her”.