Elon Musk Calls Sexual Misconduct Allegations 'Utterly Untrue'

SpaceX reportedly paid a flight attendant $250,000 to settle a claim that the billionaire exposed himself to her.

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Elon Musk in a tuxedo with white bow tie, looking over his shoulder

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk denies exposing himself to a flight attendant on a corporate jet.

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SpaceX CEO Elon Musk late Thursday addressed a report that his aerospace company paid a flight attendant $250,000 to settle allegations that the billionaire exposed himself to her during a flight, saying in a tweet that the allegations were "utterly untrue."

Responding to a question posed on Twitter, Musk, the world's richest man, said, "for the record, those wild accusations are utterly untrue." He went on to ask his accuser to "describe just one thing, anything at all (scars, tattoos, …) that isn't known by the public," to prove they'd seen him "exposed."

The tweet marked the first time Musk addressed a report earlier Thursday by Insider that the company in 2018 had paid the unnamed flight attendant to settle a claim the billionaire exposed himself to her. During a flight to London in 2016, Musk allegedly "exposed his genitals" to the attendant after asking her for a "full body" massage and then "touched her and offered to buy her a horse if she would 'do more,'" according to a declaration that a friend of the attendant submitted in support of the attendant's claim. (The flight attendant reportedly rides horses.)

The flight attendant rejected Musk's advances and soon felt like the company was retaliating against her by giving her fewer shifts, the attendant's friend told Insider. The attendant felt "she was being pushed out and punished for refusing to prostitute herself," the friend's declaration said. 

In December, a former SpaceX engineer said that sexual harassment is rampant at the aerospace company, describing in an essay for Lioness how she made multiple complaints about the workplace without results. Ashley Kosak, former mission integration engineer at SpaceX, recounted being touched without consent, stared at, asked out and messaged on her personal Instagram account, adding that SpaceX is "so rife with sexism, the only remedy is for women to leave."   

The 2018 settlement, which was reached after a mediation session that Musk attended, paid the flight attendant $250,000 in exchange for a promise not to sue over the claims, Insider reported. The agreement reportedly included restrictive nondisclosure and nondisparagement clauses that prohibit the flight attendant from discussing the settlement, disclosing any information about Musk or any of his businesses. 

SpaceX and Tesla, which Musk also runs, didn't immediately respond to requests for comment. 

Musk told Insider that its story was a "politically motivated hit piece" and 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 in my entire 30-year career that it comes to light," Musk wrote in an email to Insider. 

The allegations come to light as Musk is pursuing a $44 billion deal to buy Twitter in an effort to loosen the platform's content moderation, a change that would have outsized influence on politics and society. 

CNET's David Lumb contributed to this report.