Mr Musk said on Monday that he did not intend to accuse the diver of pedophilia. He posted the tweet after the diver Vernon Unsworth accused Mr Musk in a CNN interview of taking the limelight after offering to help Mr Unsworth’s diving team rescue the soccer team in July 2018.
Mr Unsworth then sued Mr Musk two months later in a Los Angeles federal court for smearing the diver after he dismissed the billionaire’s offer of a mini-submarine.
He said Mr Musk falsely branded him a pedophile and a child rapist.
Mr Unsworth’s lawyer L. Lin Wood called his client “a good man whose efforts saved the lives of 13 people”.
Mr Lin Wood said he will respond to Mr Musk’s court filing on the tweets in three weeks.
Mr Musk has insisted the remark is a “common insult” in South Africa.
He said the expression was “synonymous with ‘creepy old man’” and used to insult a person’s appearance.
Mr Musk said: “I did not intend to accuse Mr. Unsworth of engaging in acts of pedophilia.
“In response to his insults in the CNN interview, I meant to insult him back by expressing my opinion that he seemed like a creepy old man.”
Although Mr Musk apologised for the offensive remark, he then continued his attack by saying “stop defending child rapists” in an email to Buzzfeed News.
However, Mr Musk said the email which was sent in August 2018 was “off the record”.
Mr Musk claimed the comments were based on an aide’s summary of a private investigator’s report on the diver and that he did not know the statement was false.
Mr Unsworth said he shared a house in Thailand with a 40-year-old woman who owned a nail salon.
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The complex dispute arose after Mr Unsworth told CNN that the mini-submarine offered by the billionaire was a “PR stunt”.
He later said Mr Musk should “stick his submarine where it hurts”.
Mr Musk’s lawyers have called Mr Unsworth a public figure on all matters related to the cave rescue.
Mr Unsworth’s lawyers would then have to prove that Mr Musk’s remarks were made with “actual malice”.
Mr Unsworth also said the submarine “had absolutely no chance of working” because Mr Musk “had no conception of what the cave passage was like”.
The diver has also called Mr Musk’s motion “as offensive to the truth as was his original tweet.”
Mr Unsworth is looking for both compensatory and punitive damages.
The trial is scheduled for December 2.
Mr Musk is the founder, CEO and CTO of SpaceX and co-founder, CEO and product architect of Tesla.
The business magnate is considered one of the world’s most powerful people, ranking 21st on Forbes’ list in December 2016.
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