Tesla chief executive officer (CEO) Elon Musk has testified in a defamation suit that he called rescuer Vernon Unsworth “pedo guy” because he felt insulted by the man.
On July 15, 2018, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted “pedo guy” referring to Vernon Unsworth, one of the people involved in the Thai cave rescue that saved 12 boys and their soccer coach that same month.
On Tuesday, Musk took the stand in a Los Angeles courtroom, arguing that he did not intend to use the words “pedo guy” as a statement of fact but rather as an insult following Unsworth’s provocation.
In September 2018, Unsworth filed a defamation case against Musk, seeking punitive and compensatory damages. In the opening statement of Unsworth’s legal team, attorney Taylor Wilson said: “Unsworth brought this lawsuit against Musk for accusing him of being a pedophile in what should have been one of the proudest moments of his life.”
Wilson argued that Musk Musk brought the British man who helped in the cave rescue “shame”.
Meanwhile, Musk’s legal team casts him as the victim, focusing on a CNN interview where Unsworth said, “He can stick his submarine where it hurts,” when asked about the mini submarine Musk created to help save the trapped boys.
During a cross examination, Unsworth’s attorney L. Lin Wood asked Musk about the interview and he replied: “It was wrong and insulting, so I insulted him back.”
In his opening statement, Musk’s lawyer Alex Spiro, called Musk’s tweet as a “JDART” and said: “It was a joking, deleted, apologized for, responsive tweet. A JDART.”
In September, Musk said: “I did not intend to accuse Mr. Unsworth of engaging in acts of pedophilia. In response to his insults in the CNN interview, I meant to insult him back by expressing my opinion that he seemed like a creepy old man.”
However, he also stated in the court documents that his aide hired a private investigator who “reported that Mr. Unsworth associated with Europeans who engage in improper sexual conduct in Thailand”.