In a new Business Insider report on Thursday, Elon Musk was accused of exposing himself to a SpaceX employee and attempting to coerce sexual services from her while she worked directly for him. SpaceX ultimately paid the woman $250,000 in exchange for her silence, the report says.
Contacted by Business Insider, Musk called the report a “politically motivated hit piece,” and said “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.”
According to the account provided to Business Insider, in 2016 a flight attended who worked for SpaceX as a contractor was asked to become a licensed masseuse so that she could provide those services to Musk himself. She did so at her own expense, the report says.
It was during one of these massages, in Musk’s private room during a flight to London, that Musk exposed his erect penis, rubbed her leg “without consent,” and tried to convince her to perform an erotic massage by offering to buy her a horse, according to the report.
The woman declined Musk’s offer and, according to Business Insider, “work began to dry up” afterward. In 2018, the woman hired a California-based employment attorney and a settlement was reached without the matter ever going to court. The settlement also included a strict non-disclosure agreement.
The accuser’s identity has not been made public and according to Business insider she declined to comment. Information about the incident was provided, Business Insider said, via “a declaration signed by a friend of the attendant and prepared in support of her claim” and “other documents, including email correspondence and other records shared with Insider by the friend.”
The friend who provided the information to Business Insider was not bound by any non disclosure agreement, the publication said.
According to Business Insider, a SpaceX representative said “I’m not going to comment on any settlement agreements.” Representatives for SpaceX didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from TheWrap.
The timing of the piece sheds new light on some of the curious statements Elon Musk has made on social media in the last two days. Business Insider editor John Cook says the publication reached out to him for comment at approximately 9:00 a.m. Eastern on Wednesday. Three hours later, Musk tweeted, “Political attacks on me will escalate dramatically in coming months.”