Elon Musk's 'pedo guy' defamation trial could go to the jury on Friday
AP

Elon Musk's 'pedo guy' defamation trial could go to the jury on Friday

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Elon Musk, chief executive officer of Tesla Inc. leaves the US District Court, Central District of California through a back door in Los Angeles, U.S. on December 3, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. The defamation lawsuit against Tesla CEO Elon Musk began in Los Angeles over calling British cave explorer Vernon Unsworth "'Pedo Guy" and rapist. Unsworth was one of the first cave divers to reach the trapped boys in the flooded Tham Luong caves in Thailand.

Elon Musk, chief executive officer of Tesla Inc. leaves the US District Court, Central District of California through a back door in Los Angeles, U.S. on December 3, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. The defamation lawsuit against Tesla CEO Elon Musk began in Los Angeles over calling British cave explorer Vernon Unsworth "'Pedo Guy" and rapist. Unsworth was one of the first cave divers to reach the trapped boys in the flooded Tham Luong caves in Thailand. (Photo by Apu Gomes/Getty Images/TNS)

Jurors in the defamation case against Tesla Inc. and SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk could begin deliberations Friday following a day of testimony that included accounts from British cave diver Vernon Unsworth, who is suing Musk in federal court in Los Angeles for defamation of character and slander.

Unsworth's complaint stems from a tweet Musk sent last year referring to the cave diver as a "pedo guy," after Unsworth derided Musk's offer to send a mini-submarine to rescue a boys soccer team that had been trapped for days in an underground cave in Thailand.

Unsworth, in an interview with CNN in 2018, said Musk could "stick his submarine where it hurts" and called his offer "a PR stunt". In response, Musk went on Twitter to say of Unsworth, "Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it," and "Bet ya a signed dollar it's true."

All 12 boys, and their coach, were eventually rescued without assistance from Musk.

In his testimony Thursday, Unsworth, according to Reuters, was asked if his comments were meant for Musk. Unsworth replied that he wasn't trying to rile up the electric-car industry magnate.

"My insult was to the tube and not to Mr. Musk personally," Unsworth said. "I'm not sure how I need to apologize. It was my opinion at the time and I stand by that opinion."

Musk, while on the stand Tuesday, apologized to Unsworth for his tweets, saying they were an "off the cuff" response to what Unsworth said in his CNN interview.

Unsworth has claimed that Musk's "pedo guy" comment harmed his reputation, and is seeking $75,000 in damages. Musk, who is reportedly worth close to $20 billion, is the highest paid CEO of an American corporation, according to a survey of CEO pay released in May, and SEC filings that show Musk received a 2018 compensation package from Tesla of $2.29 billion.

Visit The Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.) at www.mercurynews.com

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