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Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been sued for libel and slander by the rescue diver he called a "pedo guy" and "child rapist," according to the lawsuit filed in a U.S. District Court in California.
British cave explorer Vernon Unsworth filed a lawsuit against Musk on Monday in a U.S. District Court in California for defamation. Unsworth is seeking at least $75,000 in compensatory damages, as well as an injunction against Musk requiring him to "refrain from making further publication of the False and Defamatory Accusations," according to court documents.
"Elon Musk falsely accused Vern Unsworth of being guilty of heinous crimes," L. Lin Wood, an attorney representing Vernon Unsworth, said in a statement. "Musk's influence and wealth cannot convert his lies into truth or protect him from accountability for his wrongdoing in a court of law."
Musk and Unsworth have been locked in a heated back-and-forth for weeks, after Unsworth questioned Musk's efforts to aid in the rescue of a Thai boys soccer team. Musk shot back at Unsworth on Twitter in mid-July, calling him a "pedo guy," among other claims.
"You know what, don't bother showing the video," Musk tweeted. "We will make one of the mini-sub/pod going all the way to Cave 5 no problemo. Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it."
In the lawsuit, Unsworth's legal team denied all the claims.
116. Musk's False and Defamatory Accusations falsely accused Mr. Unsworth of being a (1) a pedophile ,(2)a child rapist, (3) a child sex-trafficker,(4) the husband of a 12-year old child bride,and (5) a liar.
117.Mr. Unsworth is not pedophile
118.Mr. Unsworth has never engaged in an act of pedophilia.
119.Mr. Unsworth is not a child rapist.
120.Mr. Unsworth has never raped a child(or anyone else).
121.Mr. Unsworth is not a child sex-trafficker.
122.Mr. Unsworth has never in engaged in an act of child sex-trafficking(or adult sex-trafficking).
123.Mr. Unsworth is not married to a 12-year old child.
124.Mr. Unsworth has never been married to a 12-year old child(or any minor child).
Musk deleted the tweets and tweeted an apology to Unsworth a few days after. However, he resurfaced the controversy in late August, saying it was "strange" that Unsworth had not sued him over the comments. A lawyer for Unsworth had sent a letter to Musk on Aug. 6 asking the CEO to contact him in order to avoid a lawsuit and to correct the alleged false statements.
Musk also responded to a request for comment in regard to a Buzzfeed article on the subject in early September by saying, "I suggest that you call people you know in Thailand, find out what's actually going on and stop defending child rapists, you f------ a------." Musk said the email was off the record, but BuzzFeed claimed the publication never agreed to that stipulation.
Tesla and Musk did not immediately respond to requests for comment.