Elon Musk will go to trial over "pedo guy" tweets
Remember when Tesla CEO Elon Musk caused a social media controversy and called one of the British divers in the Thai cave rescue a "pedo guy" on Twitter? Now, Musk's request to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed by cave diver Vernon Unsworth over the "pedo guy" tweet was denied by a Los Angeles judge.
According to the US District Judge Stephen Wilson, a jury will have to decide whether those tweets count as recklessly negligent.
So what exactly caused this controversy?
Last year, in a tragedy that captivated the whole world, twelve boys and their football coach were rescued from the Tham Luang cave complex after a week-long rescue mission.
Musk, through his Twitter profile, rallied to the cause and offered to help the rescue mission by providing a submarine. However, the divers working the mission had to turn down the request. He then went on a tweet storm and said he would prove that his "mini-sub" would have worked in the mission.
You would think this would have been the end of the back and forth between the two men. But it wasn't.
Unsworth then went after Musk in a CNN interview, and said the "mini-sub just had absolutely no chance of working". He also said that the mini submarine Musk had sent to Thailand to help in the rescue was a “publicity stunt.”
In response, Musk tweeted the now-deleted and the cause of the defamation suit statement: "Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it."
BuzzFeed later reported that Musk then hired a private investigator who was previously convicted of fraud to look into Vernon Unsworth in an attempt to prove the "pedo guy" assertion.
The Space X CEO then sent BuzzFeed News an off-the-record email, where he accused the diver of moving to Thailand for a 12-year-old child bride.
Unsworth denied the accusation and said his wife was 32, not 12, when he met her in London. He then sued Musk, in court filings. The billionaire CEO said that his "pedo guy" tweet didn't mean anything.
"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," the filing read.
However, after news tht the trial date was set for December, Alex Spiro, of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, attorney for Elon Musk told Esquire Middle East:
“We look forward to the trial. We understand that, while Musk has apologized, Unsworth would like to milk his 15 minutes of fame.”
The defamation hearing is set for December.
*This story was updated to reflect the statement of Elon Musk's attorney.