Elon Musk found not liable in ‘pedo guy’ defamation trial

CNBC | 12/6/2019 | Staff
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A jury decided that Elon Musk had not defamed British caver Vernon Unsworth in a Los Angeles federal court on Friday.

“My faith in humanity is restored,” said Musk in court after the verdict was delivered. The jury deliberated for only an hour before delivering its verdict in the case, which went to trial earlier this week.

Unsworth - Suit - Musk - September - Tesla

Unsworth brought the suit against Musk in September 2018, after the Tesla and SpaceX CEO had called him “sus” (suspicious) and a “pedo guy” on Twitter earlier that summer. Musk also characterized the spelunker as a “child rapist” in e-mails to Buzzfeed reporter Ryan Mac, and practically requested the lawsuit in August 2018 with a tweet that said, “Don’t you think it’s strange he hasn’t sued me?”

In his testimony during the defamation trial this week, Musk apologized to Unsworth and said he did not believe the cave explorer was a pedophile.

Musk - Defense - Team - Attorney - Alex

Musk and his defense team, led by attorney Alex Spiro, argued that “pedo guy” was simply heated rhetoric and not meant as a statement of fact. They also argued that the phrase “pedo guy” is widely known as slang for “creepy old guy.” And they suggested that Unsworth was looking for a payday in court, and had not sincerely been harmed by the “pedo guy” label.

The clash between the two men began when Unsworth criticized Musk for involving himself, and his employees, in an effort to rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach from flooded caves in Thailand in July 2018.

Unsworth - Expertise - Knowledge - Caves - Soccer

Unsworth’s expertise and knowledge of the caves proved instrumental in extracting the soccer team. He is credited as being a leader of the rescue effort.

Musk and his employees developed a device that they billed as a mini-submarine or escape pod, and which they thought could transport the kids out of the caves. On July 8,...
(Excerpt) Read more at: CNBC
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