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Elon Musk accused of sexual misconduct by private jet flight attendant

Tesla CEO denies accusation; report says SpaceX paid woman $250,000 in severance in 2018 in exchange for her agreeing not to file lawsuit; she also reportedly signed NDA

In this file photo taken on May 02, 2022, Elon Musk arrives for the 2022 Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. (Angela Weiss/AFP)
In this file photo taken on May 02, 2022, Elon Musk arrives for the 2022 Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. (Angela Weiss/AFP)

NEW YORK — Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has denied a claim of sexual misconduct by a flight attendant contracted by SpaceX who worked on his private jet in 2016.

A report by Business Insider said SpaceX paid the woman $250,000 in severance in 2018 in exchange for her agreeing not to file a lawsuit over her claim.

The Business Insider report was based on an account by the flight attendant’s friend, who said the flight attendant told her about the incident shortly after it happened. The report also said the flight attendant was required to sign a non-disclosure agreement that prohibits her from discussing the payment or anything else about Musk and SpaceX.

SpaceX didn’t respond to emails seeking comment Friday. Musk founded the privately owned aerospace company in 2002 and serves as its CEO.

Musk, who is in the process of buying Twitter, used the social media platform to respond to the allegation.

“And, for the record, those wild accusations are utterly untrue,” he wrote in response to one user who tweeted in support of him.

In this photo illustration, a phone screen displays the Twitter account of Elon Musk with a photo of him shown in the background, on April 14, 2022, in Washington, DC. (Olivier Douliery/AFP)

He replied to another: “In my 30 year career, including the entire MeToo era, there’s nothing to report, but, as soon as I say I intend to restore free speech to Twitter & vote Republican, suddenly there is …”

He also made light of the accusation, quoting a tweet of his own from 2021 in which he said if there was ever a scandal about him, it should be called “Elongate.”

“Finally, we get to use Elongate as scandal name. It’s kinda perfect,” he tweeted Friday.

According to the report, the flight attendant, who had trained as a masseuse so she could give Musk massages, said Musk exposed himself to her during a massage, rubbed her leg, and offered to buy her a horse in exchange for an erotic massage.

Several hours before the Business Insider report was published, Musk tweeted that he had previously voted for Democrats but would now vote for Republicans and suggested that the left would launch a “dirty tricks campaign” against him.

Musk, who was in Brazil on Friday to meet with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, has offered to buy Twitter for $44 billion, but said the deal can’t go forward until the company provides information about how many accounts on the platform are spam or bots.

In this handout photo provided by the Ministry of Communication, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, left, and Tesla and SpaceX chief executive officer Elon Musk shake hands during a meeting in Porto Feliz, Brazil, May 20, 2022. (Cleverson Oliveira/Ministry of Communication via AP)

SpaceX has previously faced allegations of male workers sexually harassing women. One former SpaceX engineer who started as an intern wrote an online essay last year describing repeated sexual advances and other harassment she experienced. She said the company was “so rife with sexism, the only remedy is for women to leave.”

After the allegations emerged publicly in December, SpaceX’s president and chief operating officer, Gwynne Shotwell, sent an email to employees stressing the importance of “timely reporting” of harassment and discrimination complaints and said the company will rigorously investigate them, according to reports at the time from The New York Times and other news outlets.

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