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‘Pedo Guy’ Taunt Against Diver Was Just a ‘Common Insult’

Elon Musk took the stand in his defamation trial on Tuesday and justified calling a British diver who rescued a Thai youth soccer team trapped in a flooded cave last year a “pedo guy.” He told a Los Angeles court that the taunt at the center of the defamation lawsuit was just a “common insult” in reaction to a snub on national television. 

The diver, Vernon Unsworth, sued Musk in September 2018 for defamation for the tweet labeling him a pedophile, which Musk sent out during an ongoing dispute about the best way to rescue a dozen soccer players and their coach from the Tham Luang Nang Non cave last year.

Musk’s lawyers claimed on Tuesday the billionaire “was hurt” and was defending himself  after Unsworth belittled the mini submarine the Tesla CEO had built for the rescue last year on CNN. A month later, Musk called the diver a “child rapist” to a Buzzfeed reporter

Musk told jurors his comments to Unsworth were a reaction to “an unprovoked attack on what was a good-natured attempt to help the kids. …It was wrong and insulting, so I insulted him back.” 

The Tesla and SpaceX CEO eventually apologized for lashing out at Unsworth on his Twitter account, which reaches 22 million followers, claiming the insult was a “common insult” from his South African childhood. 

“‘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.”

An eight-person jury will now decide if Unsworth suffered any damages as a result of the series of insults.

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