The attendant worked as a contract cabin crew member for SpaceX’s corporate jet fleet. According to interviews and documents obtained by the media, she accused Musk of exposing his erect penis to her, rubbing her leg without her consent, and offering to buy her a horse in exchange for an erotic massage.
The incident, which occurred in 2016, is detailed in a declaration prepared in support of the attendant’s claim and signed by a friend of hers. The declaration and other documents, including email correspondence and other records shared with a media by the friend, were used to create the details in this story.
According to the declaration, the flight attendant told a friend that after getting the job as a flight attendant, she was encouraged to get a massage license so she could give Musk massages. Musk propositioned her during one of these massages in a private cabin on Musk’s Gulfstream G650ER, she told a friend.
Musk emailed media to request more time to respond and stated that there is “a lot more to this story.”
“If I were inclined to engage in sexual harassment, this is unlikely to be the first time it comes to light in my entire 30-year career,” he wrote, labeling the story a “politically motivated hit piece.”
Media who first broadcasted the news extended the deadline and reiterated Musk’s invitation to comment on the allegations. He didn’t say anything.
“I’m not going to comment on any settlement agreements,” SpaceX vice president of legal Christopher Cardaci said over the phone. Requests for comment sent to SpaceX’s general media contact email address were not returned.
A claim that Musk offered an erotic massage in exchange for a horse
According to the declaration, the flight attendant told her friend that the billionaire SpaceX and Tesla founder asked her to come to his room during a flight in late 2016 “for a full body massage.” The attendant discovered Musk “completely naked except for a sheet covering the lower half of his body” when she arrived. According to the declaration, Musk “exposed his genitals” during the massage and then “touched her and offered to buy her a horse if she would ‘do more,’ referring to the performance of sex acts.”
The attendant, who rides horses, refused and continued the massage without engaging in any sexual activity. The friend declared that the attendant “is not for sale.” “She will not perform sexual favors in exchange for money or gifts.” The incident happened on a flight to London.
The friend went into greater detail about the attendant’s allegations in an interview with a Media. She spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing concerns for her personal safety, but the media knows who she is. The identity of the flight attendant is also known to the media, but she will not be named because she has claimed to be a victim of sexual misconduct. She refused to comment for this article.
“He whipped out his penis, and it was erect,” the friend described the allegations. “And he started proposing to her, as if he touched her thigh and said he’d buy her a horse. And he basically tried to bribe her into doing some sort of sexual favor for him.”
“Punished because she refused to prostitute herself”
The friend claimed that the attendant informed her of the misconduct while they were on a hike together shortly after their trip to London. The attendant was distraught and visibly shaken, according to the friend. “She was really upset,” a friend remarked. “She had no idea what to do.”
The flight attendant told a friend that work dried up after she turned down Musk’s advances. “Before the incident, she regarded Mr. Musk as someone to look up to,” according to the declaration. “But she was terrified after he exposed himself, touched her without permission, and offered to pay her for sex.”
“She figured everything would just go back to normal and she’d act as if nothing had happened,” a friend told a media. “However, she began to feel as if she was receiving some sort of retaliation, as her shifts were reduced, and she began to feel extremely stressed.”
According to the declaration, the attendant eventually felt “pushed out and punished for refusing to prostitute herself.”
SpaceX places a premium on massages, even hiring in-house massage therapists as a perk for executives. According to the friend, the flight attendant’s superiors encouraged her to invest in her own professional massage training for her sessions with Musk.
“They encouraged her to become a masseuse on her own time and on her own dime,” a friend said. “They implied that if she did this, she would be able to give Elon proper massages and thus fly more frequently. That struck me as odd because — you weren’t hired to be a masseuse. You’ve been hired as a flight attendant. And if Elon enjoys massages, he should pay for you to attend massage school. But she was overjoyed to have the job and be able to travel.”
A severance payment of $250,000
In 2018, convinced that her refusal to accept Musk’s proposal had harmed her chances at SpaceX, the attendant hired a California employment lawyer and filed a complaint with the company’s human resources department. Around that time, the attorney’s firm contacted the friend and requested that she prepare a declaration corroborating the claims.
The attendant’s complaint was quickly resolved following a mediation session attended by Musk. The case was never heard in a court of law or in arbitration. Musk, SpaceX, and the flight attendant reached a severance agreement in November 2018, granting the attendant a $250,000 payment in exchange for a promise not to sue over the claims.
The agreement also included non-disclosure and non-disparagement clauses that prohibit the attendant from ever discussing the severance payment or disclosing any information about Musk and his companies, including SpaceX and Tesla.
Musk is currently pursuing a purchase of Twitter based on his stated belief that “free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy.” He stated on Twitter earlier this month that “sunlight is the best disinfectant.”
Twitter did not respond to a comment request.
“By remaining silent, you become a part of that system.”
According to the friend, she decided to come forward without consulting the flight attendant because, as a survivor of sexual assault, she felt obligated to share what she had learned about Musk. Her friend, unlike the flight attendant, is not bound by any non-disclosure agreement.
“I definitely felt obligated to come forward with it, especially now,” she said. “He is the world’s richest man. Someone with that level of power causing that much harm and then throwing money at the problem is not accountable. Predators can be found all over the world. However, when someone is extremely wealthy and powerful, they literally have machines working for them to set them up to be able to do whatever they want.”
She would be complicit if she remained silent, according to her friend. “You do become a part of that system when you choose to remain silent,” she explained. “You do become a part of the machine that allows someone like Elon Musk to keep doing the horrible things he’s done.”
Nondisclosure agreements are essential parts of that machine. The friend stated that before contacting the media, she contacted the victim’s attorney. Although she was free to speak to the press, the attorney warned her that sharing any documents from the case, including her own declaration, could jeopardize the flight attendant’s safety.
“Her main concern was clearly her client,” a friend observed. She recalled the attorney telling her that confidentiality clauses are “bullshit” and that any other women who have been victimized by Musk should come forward. When it came to her client, however, the attorney advised her friend not to share the declaration. “That would be a huge issue,” she told her friend.
Non-disclosure clauses in agreements like the one the attendant signed are no longer permitted in California, where SpaceX is headquartered. Just months after her settlement in 2018, then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed the “Stand Against Non-Disclosure Act,” which prohibits the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in future settlements involving sexual harassment, discrimination, or assault unless requested by the plaintiff.
Requests for comment were not returned by the attorney.
“If there was a way for [her] to come forward without putting herself in danger, without jeopardizing her life in any way,” the attendant’s friend told a media. “I hope she thinks I did the right thing. I hope she feels I said the things she didn’t feel safe saying.”
“I want the truth to be revealed.”
This is the only known allegation and settlement for sexual misconduct involving Musk personally.
However, two of his companies have previously faced allegations of sexual harassment. Four women who worked at SpaceX spoke out about sexual harassment they said they faced at the company, where Musk is the CEO, in December 2021, the same week he was named Time’s Person of the Year. Ashley Kosak, for example, wrote an essay about being groped and inappropriately touched by male employees while she was an intern. Three other people told the New York Times about similar treatment, one of whom said she was bound by a non-disclosure agreement.
In response to the reports, SpaceX president and COO Gwynne Shotwell sent a company-wide email saying that “timely reporting of harassment is critical to our maintaining SpaceX as a great place to work; we can’t fix what we don’t know,” according to the Times. She went on to say that SpaceX will “rigorously investigate all harassment or discrimination claims and take swift and appropriate action when our policy is violated.”
In addition, at least six women have filed sexual harassment claims against Tesla, of which Musk is the CEO. According to the complaints, men at the factory ogled women and commented on their clothing, prompting some women to wear baggy outfits and use stacks of boxes to block the views of leering coworkers. When some of the women came forward, they claimed they were retaliated against.
According to the friend, if anyone else was mistreated by Musk, she hopes they will come forward and tell their story publicly. If there are additional victims, she stated, “I’d like to see them come forward. I’d like the truth to be revealed.”
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