The Tesla CEO, who has a history of ill-advised comments, is now facing a legal challenge after he referred, without evidence, to a British diver as a “pedophile.” The diver, Vernon Unsworth, came into conflict with Musk during the rescue operation of 12 Thai youths who were trapped in a cave with their soccer coach.
Musk had tried to intervene in the operation by offering the services of a mini-submarine. Unsworth, who was helping with the rescue, criticized Musk’s suggestion as a public relations stunt. In response, Musk tweeted out a challenge to Unsworth, referring to him on July 15 as “pedo guy.” Although Musk initially apologized, the billionaire inventor continued to taunt the diver. In an email interview with a BuzzFeed reporter, Musk described Unsworth as “an old, single white guy from England who’s been traveling or living in Thailand for 30 to 40 years.” Musk also claimed that Unsworth journeyed to Thailand “for a child bride who was about 12 years old at the time.” Usworth’s lawyer has repeatedly called these allegations “false,” and threatened a lawsuit. “I fucking hope he sues me,” Musk wrote to a Buzzfeed reporter earlier this month.
Unsworth’s lawsuit, now filed, lays out a factual critique to these and other claims. “Mr. Unsworth is not a pedophile. Mr. Unsworth has never engaged in an act of pedophilia. Mr. Unsworth is not a child rapist,” the lawsuit states.
Shareholders of Telsa are already reportedly unhappy with Musk’s loose cannon behavior, which has recently included tweeting a plan to re-privatize the company, and openly smoking marijuana on a podcast. The lawsuit is not likely to cheer them up.