SpaceX reportedly paid a flight attendant $250,000 to make sure she didn’t speak up or sue the company after Elon Musk allegedly exposed herself and suggested she have sex, according to a report by Business Insider†
content warning† The following story contains descriptions of sexual misconduct. If you need immediate support, you can contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at: online.rainn.org or by calling 1-800-656-4673†
According to one of the flight attendant’s friends, the alleged victim worked as a crew member on a SpaceX business flight. During one of the flights, the flight attendant told her friend that Musk asked her for a full-body massage in his room – reportedly this was not uncommon, and SpaceX had encouraged the flight attendant to get a masseuse license. During the massage, Musk is said to have removed the sheet that covered the lower half of his body and showed her his erect penis. While rubbing her leg, he reportedly offered to buy the attendant a horse if she “would do more.” (The story notes that the attendant rode horses.)
The allegations were passed on to Insider by one of the flight attendant’s friends, who was asked by the flight attendant’s attorney to sign a statement supporting the claims in 2018. The friend told Insider the attendant refused to perform sexual acts with Musk and that she was “really upset” after the flight. The friend also said that SpaceX reduced the number of services she received after the incident, which the attendant saw as a sign of retaliation.
According to Insider, the supervisor filed a complaint with SpaceX’s HR department in 2018, saying her career at the company had suffered as a result of her refusal. The company reportedly took the complaint to a mediator, not a court or arbitrator, and signed the counselor to a $250,000 severance agreement that prohibits her from saying anything bad about Musk or his companies, including SpaceX and Tesla. This included talking about the payment itself.
Insider says the source did not consult the flight attendant before coming forward with the story, and says the alleged victim declined to comment. The companion’s friend has not signed a nondisclosure agreement.
When contacted for comment, Musk reportedly said there was “much more” to the story, saying it was a “politically motivated hit piece.” The language reminds us of a tweet from Musk on Wednesday, where he told his followers that “political attacks on me will escalate dramatically in the coming months”. He also warned that he would become the victim of a ‘dirty tricks campaign’.
According to an editor at InsiderElon’s tweets were posted shortly after the outlet reached out for comment, making it appear as if he was trying to pre-empt the story by preparing people to disbelieve the next thing he was accused of. The outlet says it asked for more time to respond further, but never responded again Insider extended the term.
Musk told Insider“If I were prone to sexual harassment, this probably won’t be the first time in my entire 30-year career that it’s come to light.”
However, employees of SpaceX and Tesla have previously said that both companies helped by Musk have cultures of sexual harassment. An employee at SpaceX said the company took no meaningful action after they reported being groped by co-workers, and Tesla faces multiple lawsuits over its HR department failing to protect employees who were “objectified, threatened, touched and suggested about the factory floor.” An employee said Musk’s tweets, which sometimes contain sexual innuendo, are an example of how employees behave.
SpaceX has not responded to The edge‘s request for comment.
Update, May 19, 8:52 PM ET: Added references to reports from Tesla and SpaceX that allegedly have cultures of sexual harassment.