STORY: Billionaire Elon Musk denounced a news report that he sexually harassed a flight attendant in 2016 as "utterly untrue."
Business Insider reported on Thursday that Musk's SpaceX paid $250,000 in 2018 to settle a sexual harassment claim from an unnamed private jet 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.
Late on Thursday Musk tweeted, "I have a challenge to this liar who claims their friend saw me 'exposed' – describe just one thing, anything at all (scars, tattoos, …) that isn’t known by the public. She won’t be able to do so, because it never happened."
Reuters was not able to verify the Business Insider account. In a statement to Reuters on Friday, Business Insider said: "We stand by our story which is based on documents and interviews and which speaks for itself."
Musk gleefully tweeted that he would refer to this particular scandal as "Elongate" which, he said, "is kinda perfect."
Musk and SpaceX did not respond to Reuters requests for comment on the Business Insider story or on Musk's tweets.
Business Insider quoted the friend of the flight attendant as saying that in addition to allegedly exposing himself, Musk rubbed the flight attendant's thigh and offered to buy her a horse if she would "do more" during an in-flight massage.
The flight attendant came to believe that her refusal to accept Musk's proposal had hurt her opportunities to work at SpaceX and prompted her to hire a lawyer in 2018, according to Business Insider.
Business Insider said the rocket company made the settlement out of court and included a nondisclosure agreement that prevented the flight attendant from speaking about it.
Musk, who is also chief executive of Tesla, is in the midst of a contentious effort to buy Twitter. He tweeted that the article was meant to interfere with his acquisition of the social media company, and was a politically-motivated attack because he recently announced he would vote for Republicans.