Elon Musk is being sued for libel after “pedo” comments

Elon Musk’s PR team must be beside themselves. The billionaire entrepreneur has been careering from faux pas to faux pas; most recently comes the news that he’s being sued for libel after he administered a slew of child abuse allegations. 

Despite making an initial apology for calling British cave rescuer Vernon Unsworth “pedo guy” back in July, Musk went on to make a number of child abuse accusations against the former. In addition to calling Unsworth a “child rapist”, Musk accused him of having a “child bride”, with a lack of accompanying evidence. 

Unsworth has responded by filing a lawsuit which seeks $75,000 (£57,000) in compensation, in addition to an injunction against Musk to curb any potential future allegations. The filing, shared by the BBC, also reveals that Unsworth seeks “punitive damages”, in order “to punish [Musk] for his wrongdoing and deter him from repeating such heinous conduct”. 

Back in July, Elon Musk’s comments caused quite the stir among Tesla investors, Loup Ventures, who published an open letter willing the tech boss to apologise for his ill-judged comment. Musk soon after took to Twitter – the scene of the crime – to say sorry. “I apologize to Mr. Unsworth and to the companies I represent as leader. The fault is mine and mine alone,” came Musk’s apology. 

It was caveated, however, with a preamble detailing the reasons behind his outburst: “my words were spoken in anger after Mr. Unsworth said several untruths & suggested I engage in a sexual act with the mini-sub, which had been built as an act of kindness & according to specifications from the dive team leader,” he explained, before adhering to investors’ demands for a public apology. 

If all this makes you hark back to the days your mum would make you issue a public apology to your siblings or you’d go without dessert/toys/TV, then you’re not alone. Except in Musk’s case it’s the future of his EV empire that’s at stake, not just his bedtime. 

In case you’re not up to speed, Musk, whose “kid-sized” submarine proved ultimately redundant in aiding the Thai cave rescue, recently lashed out a diver involved in rescue efforts, calling him a “pedo”. The unfounded accusation elicited righteous anger from its recipient, diver Vernon Unsworth, who is rumoured to be considering legal action.

Tesla’s investors are more than a tad concerned about Musk’s comments, and what they mean for the future of the firm. Musk’s unwieldy Twitter attacks “could have a dramatic negative impact on the company,” mused Gene Munster, head of research at venture capital firm Loup Ventures, to The Guardian. Erratic behaviour such as this could lose the confidence of investors, particularly given the high publicity such outbursts receive.

READ NEXT: Indignant Elon Musk defends his “kid-sized” submarine for Thai cave rescue

The spat in question unfolded on Twitter, as Unsworth – who was instrumental in the (wholly successful) cave rescue – denounced Musk’s fruitless intervention as a “PR stunt”. Musk, angered by the criticism, claimed he would make a video proving the viability of the submarine, closing his Twitter tirade with “Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it”.

It’s hardly model behaviour from one of the most prominent entrepreneurs in the world – lobbing baseless accusations of “pedo” is behaviour more often confined to secondary school playgrounds (see: every Inbetweeners episode). Even then, it’s lowbrow, insulting to victims and dangerous.

Image: Mohammed Abdelzak, used under Creative Commons  

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