Cave diver Vernon Unsworth is suing Tesla CEO Elon Musk for defamation after the tweet-happy executive published several tweets accusing the former of being a “pedo guy.” Earlier this summer, Musk tried to help Unsworth as he led a successful rescue of 12 young soccer players who were stuck in a cave in Thailand.
“Elon Musk falsely accused Vern Unsworth of being guilty of heinous crimes. Musk’s influence and wealth cannot convert his lies into truth or protect him from accountability for his wrongdoing in a court of law,” says Unsworth’s lawyer, L. Lin Wood. Unsworth is asking for $75,000 in damages and an order that would prevent Musk from making further defamatory statements.
We reached out to Tesla for comment and will update if we hear back.
Ironically, the debacle started with Musk trying to be a hero. When news spread that flooding had detained the boys’ soccer team inside a cave in a Thai national park, Musk offered to send a boy-sized submarine down to aid the rescue effort. Musk then traveled to the rescue site, mini-sub in tow. A team of divers, led by Unsworth, already had a rescue under way when he arrived. Only four boys remained in the cave at that time, and Musk’s machine was apparently not needed.
Unsworth later clarified in an interview with CNN that the mini-submarine Musk had proposed using was too big to navigate tight tunnels. Unsworth also called Musk’s attempted rescue a “PR stunt” and told him to “stick his submarine where it hurts.” In response, Musk tweeted extensively about Unsworth, calling into question his story, his credentials, and also accusing him of being a pedophile. Musk later deleted the tweets and offered an apology to Unsworth, according to the complaint.
But Musk apparently wasn’t quite done. He later questioned in a tweet why Unsworth hadn’t sued yet. Then in an exchange with a BuzzFeed reporter, Musk said the following:
I suggest that you call people you know in Thailand, find out what’s actually going on and stop defending child rapists, you f****ing a**hole. He’s an old, single white guy from England who’s been traveling or living in Thailand for 30 to 40 years, mostly Pattaya Beach, until moving to Chiang Rai for a child bride who was about 12 years old at the time. There’s only one reason people go to Pattaya Beach. It isn’t where you’d go for caves, but it is where you’d go for something else. Chiang Rai is renowned for child sex-trafficking.
He may claim to know how to cave dive, but he wasn’t on the cave dive rescue team and most of the actual dive team refused to hang out with him. I wonder why . . .
As for this alleged threat of a lawsuit, which magically appeared when I raised the issue (nothing was sent or raised beforehand), I f****ing hope he sues me.
It looks like Musk has gotten his wish.