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Tesla CEO Musk facing defamation trial for 'pedo guy' tweet

SeattlePI.com Tuesday, 3 December 2019
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Elon Musk is going on trial Tuesday for his troublesome tweets in a defamation case pitting the billionaire against a British diver he allegedly branded a pedophile.

The Tesla CEO will be called to testify early in the case in Los Angeles federal court to explain what he meant when he called Vernon Unsworth, who helped rescue youth soccer players trapped underwater in a Thailand cave, “pedo guy” in a Twitter spat more than year ago.

Musk later apologized for lashing out at Unsworth on Twitter after the diver belittled Musk’s efforts to build a tiny submarine to save the trapped boys as a “PR stunt.” The tweet, which was widely interpreted as a reference to a pedophile, was removed by Musk, who disputed that’s what he meant.

“‘Pedo guy’ was a common insult used in South Africa when I was growing up,” Musk said in a court declaration. “It is synonymous with ‘creepy old man’ and is used to insult a person’s appearance and demeanor.”

Unsworth’s lawyers have laughed off that explanation and said his claim was undercut by a subsequent tweet when he said, “Bet ya a signed dollar it’s true” in response to a question about whether he had accused Unsworth of being a pedophile.

The lawyers also said he hired private investigators to dig up evidence Unsworth was a child molester, which they never found, according to Unsworth’s lawyers.

The lawsuit is not the first time Musk’s tweets have landed him in hot water.

Musk and Tesla reached a $40 million settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission last year on allegations he misled investors with a tweet declaring he had secured financing to buy out the electric car maker. He agreed in the settlement to have future tweets about the company screened.

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Credit: Reuters - Politics - Published < > Embed
News video: Elon Musk begins trial over 'pedo guy' tweet

Elon Musk begins trial over 'pedo guy' tweet 01:33

Tesla boss Elon Musk is set to go on trial on Tuesday after he described a British cave explorer who helped rescue a group of boys from a cave complex in Thailand as a pedophile on Twitter. Jayson Albano reports.

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