Elon Musk appeared in a Los Angeles courtroom Tuesday, where he is facing trial for a defamation lawsuit brought by a British diver who claims the Tesla boss’s “pedo guy” comment ruined his life.
Musk is expected to testify as soon as Tuesday afternoon over whether he ruined the reputation of Vernon Unsworth by falsely accusing him of being a pedophile after he helped rescue a group of boys from a flooded cave in Thailand in 2018.
Musk apologized, deleted the tweet, and claimed “pedo guy” was a common insult in South Africa where he grew up. But Unsworth is suing Musk for $75,000 in damages, claiming his reputation was damaged by the comment.
In his opening statement, Unsworth’s lawyer, Taylor Wilson, said the tweet was more than a slip-up, and Musk had no business branding Unsworth a pedophile “in what should have been one of the proudest moments of his life.”
The trial is slated to last about five days. Jury selection began Tuesday morning, when more than 40 potential panelists were asked whether they have strong opinions on billionaires or people who live in Thailand.
One woman said she had a strong feeling about billionaires and was dismissed.
More than 10 jurors stood up when asked if they owned a Tesla or had any connection to one of Musk’s companies, while one man said he had a job interview at SpaceX later this month.
Another two potential jurors were dismissed when they admitted to following Musk on Twitter, while another man said he couldn’t participate because he heard about the case on the radio that morning.
The spat began after Musk offered a submarine from his SpaceX rocket company to help with the cave rescue in July 2018.
But Unsworth rebuffed the offer, going on CNN three days after the rescue to belittle the offer as “PR stunt” and said Musk could “stick his submarine where it hurts.”
An offended Musk took to Twitter and lashed Unsworth in a series of tweets, including calling him “pedo guy.”
The tech inventor’s attorney, Alex Spiro, has repeatedly labeled the British diver as an opportunist and said the insults were simply “an argument between two men.”
Spiro also accused Unsworth of wanting to “milk his 15 minutes of fame.”
The case continues.
With Post wires