U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson in Los Angeles denied Elon Musk’s request to throw out the case of a British rescue diver who claims Musk called him a “pedo guy.”
Musk and Vernon Unsworth first came to odds when the diver questioned the need for a small submarine the inventor-businessman sent to help in the rescue of a teen soccer team that had become trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand.
Unsworth sued Musk after a heated back-and-forth following the successful rescue of the soccer team. It was during that period that Musk called the diver a “pedo guy.”
At first, Musk apologized for accusing Unsworth of pedophilia but then renewed his accusations through emails to BuzzFeed News. Musk added more specific claims, calling Unsworth a “child rapist” who moved to Thailand to find a child bride.
Thailand is known for its sex trafficking and legal child marriage. The country has no minimum age for marriage. Thai children’s rights activist Anchana Heemmina told the Guardian that legal loopholes have made “cross-border marriages” a “big business.”
Musk said in a court deposition released last September he was worried that Unsworth might be “another Jeffrey Epstein.” Court documents show that Musk’s representatives contracted private investigators to “dig up details” in Unsworth.
Unsworth has denied such accusations, but his attorneys have yet to respond. Musk attorney Alex Spiro said, “We look forward to the trial.”
This has been a trying summer for Musk marked by altercations with reporters, the failed attempt to take his Tesla car company private and missed production goals.
The Unsworth case is one of a number of legal actions that Tesla and his companies face. Most notably Tesla is fighting a lawsuit filed by shareholders over the 2016 acquisition of SolarCity and Walmart over Tesla solar panels that caught fire on several of its stores.
Musk told The New York Times that 2018 had been “the most difficult and painful year of my career. It was excruciating.” As 2020 fast approaches, Musk appears set to take the offensive against accusers like Unsworth.