Elon Musk Says ‘I’m a F***ing Idiot’ in Latest Twist in ‘Pedo-Guy’ Defamation Case

elon musk-twitter account
June 13, 2019: SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk gestures during a conversation with legendary game designer Todd Howard (not pictured) at the E3 gaming convention in Los Angeles, California, U.S., June 13, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Mike Blake—Reuters

Elon Musk’s bizarre crusade against a hero cave diver took a new turn this week as court documents describe the Tesla CEO expressing regret over his decision to call the diver a “child rapist”—even as Musk has been doubling down on what appear to be unfounded allegations.

In the latest filing in a defamation case brought by Vernon Unsworth, the British diver cites correspondence from Musk to a PR agent. In the missive, Musk explains the context of an email in which he told a reporter Unsworth was a rapist with a 12-year-old Thai bride.

“I didn’t expect Buzzfeed to publish an off-the-record email. My intent was to have them investigate and come to their own conclusions, not publish my email directly. Still, I’m a f***ing idiot…It was still one of the dumber things I’ve ever done,” states Musk to the PR agent.

The new court filing, which is Unsworth’s response to a motion by Musk to dismiss the case, also describes the Tesla CEO’s allegations as baseless, and portrays him as erratic and vindictive.

“[These are] false, heinous accusations by Elon Musk, a thin-skinned billionaire who is obsessed with his public image and who has a history of vindictively and intentionally ignoring truth to maintain that PR-created image,” states the filing, which was first reported by Buzzfeed.

In response to a request for comment, an attorney for Musk, slammed Unsworth’s motives.

“This case is nothing but a money-grab in which Unsworth has hired an agent and pursued profit, publicity and self-promotion at every turn. The truth of his motivations and actions will come out soon enough,” said Alex Spiro of Quinn Emanuel.

The legal brawl came about after Musk called Unsworth “pedo-guy” on Twitter after the latter supervised a successful rescue mission of a children’s soccer team and their coach, who had been trapped in a submerged cave.

The “pedo-guy” salvo came in response to Unsworth’s declaration that a plan by Musk to deploy a mini-submarine to rescue the team was a “PR stunt.”

In defending the lawsuit, Musk has asserted without evidence that “pedo-guy” was a common insult in his native South Africa, and implied that Unsworth was simply a “creepy old man” rather than an actual pedophile.

Unsworth’s latest court filing states that the diver does have a Thai partner, but that the woman was 32 when they met, and that the allegations he has consorted with minors are a fabrication by Musk. The document also recounts how the billionaire CEO paid a private investigator, who was subsequently revealed to be a fraudster, to dig up dirt on Unsworth and help leak it to the press.

Given the apparent absence of evidence to support Musk’s “pedo guy” and “child rapist” assertions, Unsworth’s lawyers argue there is a strong case for defamation. The filing claims Unsworth is not a public figure and that, even if he is for purposes of the dispute, Musk’s assertions amount to “actual malice”—a legal term for statements that rise to the level of defamation even in the case of public figures.

This story was updated to include comment from Musk’s attorney.

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