A federal judge ruled this week Tesla CEO Elon Musk must stand trial for calling a British cave explorer a “pedo guy” last year.
United States District Court Judge Stephen V. Wilson ruled Mr. Musk will face a jury trial on Dec. 3 for his attack against explorer Vernon Unsworth after rejecting Mr. Musk’s argument that it was a throwaway insult, according to The New York Times.
The judge also threw out Mr. Musk’s argument that Mr. Unsworth was a public figure, declaring him a private figure — which needs a lower bar of negligence to prove defamation and recover damages.
Mr. Unsworth sued Mr. Musk in late 2018 after the two clashed during the cave rescue of a Thai child soccer team — who became trapped in July 2018 after water rose while they were in the caves.
Mr. Musk sent engineers from his companies to help — who constructed three miniature submarines to help aid in the rescue, but many rescuers said the subs were impractical and Mr. Unsworth said in a CNN interview they were a “P.R. stunt.”
“He can stick his submarine where it hurts,” Mr. Unsworth said. “It just had absolutely no chance of working.”
In response, Mr. Musk attacked Mr. Unsworth in a series of tweets, including calling him “pedo guy.” He would later delete and apologize for the tweets.
Mr. Musk also told a BuzzFeed reporter to “stop defending child rapists” when asked about his statements, also saying Mr. Unsworth had a child bride.
Mr. Unsworth has denied all of Mr. Musk’s claims and is suing him for $75,000 for damages.