Tesla chief executive Elon Musk has defended his use of the term “pedo guy” to refer to a British cave diver last year, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Musk faces a defamation lawsuit from diver Vernon Unsworth, who helped rescue a number of teenagers trapped in a cave in Thailand last year. The outspoken entrepreneur famously called Unsworth “pedo guy” on Twitter after the diver said the mini-submarine Musk built to help with the rescue was nothing but a “PR stunt.”
In a court filing earlier this week, Musk suggested the public had misinterpreted his use of the term “pedo guy.”
“By referring to Mr. Unsworth as ‘pedo guy,’ I did not intend to convey any facts or imply that Mr. Unsworth had engaged in acts of pedophilia,” the filing states. “Pedo guy was a common insult used in South Africa when I was growing up. It is synonymous with ‘creepy old man’ and is used to insult a person’s appearance and demeanor, not accuse a person of pedophilia.”
Musk may want the public to think he wasn’t accusing Unsworth of pedophilia, but emails he sent to Buzzfeed last year suggest otherwise.
“He’s an old, single white guy from England who’s been traveling to or living in Thailand for 30 to 40 years, mostly Pattaya Beach, until moving to Chiang Rai for a child bride who was about 12 years old at the time,” he wrote in one of his emails. “There’s only one reason people go to Pattaya Beach. It isn’t where you’d go for caves, but it is where you’d go for something else. Chiang Rai is renowned for child sex-trafficking.”
It later emerged that Musk paid a private investigator $50,000 to investigate Unsworth, and was informed that the diver had married a 12-year-old child bride. This was later confirmed to be untrue.
In a statement, Unsworth’s lawyer, L. Lin Wood, wrote; “Musk’s motion is as offensive to the truth and the sworn testimony developed in this case as was his initial false and heinous accusation of pedophilia.”
Musk’s legal team has asked the judge to dismiss the case before the scheduled trial on December 2, claiming Musk’s tweets and email sent to Buzzfeed don’t meet the legal standard of defamation.