Remember last year, when eccentric entrepreneur Elon Musk got mad at a diver who was helping rescue children trapped in a cave — and called him a “pedo guy” on Twitter?
Now the diver, Vernon Unsworth, is suing Musk for defamation. And Musk’s legal team has an eyebrow-raising defense: “pedo guy” didn’t actually mean Unsworth was a pedophile.
Yeah, you read that right. In fact, Musk says “pedo guy” is just a childhood insult from South Africa, where he grew up.
“By referring to Mr. Unsworth as ‘pedo guy,’ I did not intend to convey any facts or imply that Mr. Unsworth had engaged in acts of pedophilia,” Musk said according to a court filing on Monday. “Pedo guy was a common insult used in South Africa when I was growing up. It is synonymous with ‘creepy old man’ and is used to insult a person’s appearance and demeanor, not accuse a person of pedophilia.”
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Unsworth’s attorney argued that “the motion filed by Elon Musk today is a disgusting and transparent effort to continue falsely smearing Vernon Unsworth without any credible or verified supporting evidence.”
Musk’s lawyers, meanwhile, are requesting that the judge dismisses the case before a December trial.
Mr. Unsworth cannot establish a defamation case just because Mr. Musk insulted him on Twitter and sent a private email to a reporter,” Musk’s legal team wrote in the filing. “The Constitution does not allow that.”
READ MORE: Elon Musk claims ‘pedo guy’ is actually a South African insult that doesn’t mean pedophile [Washington Post]