Elon Musk said he didn’t mean to accuse a British diver of paedophilia, despite calling him “pedo guy” on Twitter and prompting a lawsuit.
The SpaceX CEO is being sued by Vernon Unsworth, who was part of a team that rescued 12 young football players and their coach trapped underwater in a Thailand cave.
Musk had offered to help and Unsworth accused the tech billionaire of engaging in a publicity stunt. Things came to a head between the pair when the Tesla CEO smeared Unsworth, calling him “pedo guy” in a tweet.
He apologised, however shortly after called the diver a “child rapist” in an email to BuzzFeed News.
Unsworth denied the allegations and sued Musk for defamation, and after the lawsuit failed to be dismissed, lawyers acting on behalf of Musk are now arguing the term “pedo guy” was not an accusation of being a paedophile.
Documents submitted to a California court say the term “pedo guy” was a “common insult” used in South Africa, where Musk was brought up, and he thought he was synonymous with “creepy old man [and] aimed at insulting one’s appearance and demeanour.”
“I did not intend to accuse Mr Unsworth of engaging in acts of paedophilia,” added Musk, who grew up in Pretoria.
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.
The documents added:
There is no evidence that Mr Musk intended or believed that his July 15 tweets, that Mr Unsworth was ‘sus’ or ‘pedo guy,’ would be interpreted as fact.
To the contrary, the evidence is that Mr Musk believed and intended his statements to be read as what they were: bare insults.
Musk claimed his August 2018 email to BuzzFeed News journalist, who he told to “stop defending child rapists,” was based on an aide’s summary of a private investigator’s report on Unsworth and that he did not know at the time the statement was false. He added the email has been “off the record.”