Tech billionaire Elon Musk said he did not intend to accuse a British diver of paedophilia by calling him a “pedo guy” on Twitter.
The Tesla founder last night sought to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed by diver Vernon Unsworth, saying the phrase was a “common insult used in South Africa when I was growing up”.
Musk branded Unsworth a “pedo guy” on Twitter after the diver accused him of staging a PR stunt by offering to help rescue 12 boys and their football coach from a cave in Thailand last year.
Unsworth sued two months later in Los Angeles, saying Musk falsely branded him a paedophile and child rapist and denying those allegations.
“I did not intend to accuse Mr. Unsworth of engaging in acts of paedophilia,” said Musk.
“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.”
Musk also said his “off the record” August 2018 email to a BuzzFeed News reporter 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 then know the statement was false.
Unsworth is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. A trial is scheduled for 2 December.
Main image credit: Getty