Musk denies sexually harassing flight attendant on private jet

Elon Musk speaks at the Automotive World News Congress at the Renaissance Center in Detroit, Michigan January 13, 2015. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook//File Photo

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OAKLAND, May 19 (Reuters) – Billionaire Elon Musk took to Twitter on Thursday night to denounce claims in a news report that he sexually harassed a flight attendant on a private jet in 2016 as “completely false” .

Business Insider reported earlier Thursday that Musk’s SpaceX paid $250,000 in 2018 to settle a sexual harassment claim from an unnamed private flight attendant who accused Musk of exposing himself to her.

The article quoted an anonymous person who said she was a friend of the flight attendant. The friend had provided a statement as part of the private settlement process, according to the article.

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“I challenge this liar who claims her friend saw me ‘exposed’ – only describe one thing, anything (scars, tattoos, …) that is not known to the public. can’t do so, because it never happened,” Musk tweeted.

Reuters was unable to verify the Business Insider account. Musk and SpaceX did not respond to Reuters requests for comment on Business Insider’s story or on Musk’s tweets.

Along with supposedly exposing himself, Musk rubbed the flight attendant’s thigh and offered to buy her a horse if she “did more” during an in-flight massage, said Business Insider quoting the flight attendant’s friend.

The flight attendant came to believe that her refusal to accept Musk’s proposal hurt her chances of working at SpaceX and prompted her to hire a lawyer in 2018, according to Business Insider.

The rocket company reached the settlement out of court and included a nondisclosure agreement that kept the flight attendant from talking about it, Business Insider said. The news site did not name the friend or the flight attendant.

Musk, who is also chief executive of Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) and is in the midst of a controversial effort to buy Twitter Inc (TWTR.N), said on Wednesday he would vote Republican instead of Democrat, predicting a ” dirty tricks campaign against me” would follow.

In the Business Insider article, Musk reportedly said the flight attendant story was a “politically motivated blockbuster play” and that there was “a lot more to this story.”

On Thursday night, Musk tweeted for the first time, “Attacks on me must be viewed politically – that’s their standard (despicable) playbook – but nothing will deter me from fighting for a good future and yours. right to freedom of expression.” In the initial tweet, he didn’t specifically mention the allegations in the Business Insider article.

“And, for the record, these savage accusations are totally untrue,” Musk added in another tweet.

He also tweeted that the article was intended to interfere with the acquisition of Twitter.

Reuters could not immediately contact Business Insider for comment.

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Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin and Joey Roulette; Editing by Peter Henderson

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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