The British cave explorer Vernon Unsworth who suing Elon Musk testified on Wednesday he felt “branded a pedophile” by the billionaire entrepreneur. Despite Musk’s assertion that his “pedo guy” tweet at the heart of the defamation case was not meant to be taken literally.
Vernon Unsworth who resides in Chiang Rai, Thailand is seeking unspecified damages in his lawsuit against Musk. Unsworth took the witness stand on the second day of a trial stemming from their public squabble.
The spat happened during last year’s rescue of 12 boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave in Thailand.
Unsworth’s appearance in a packed federal courtroom in Los Angeles came hours after Musk, the chief executive of electric carmaker Tesla Inc and founder of rocket company SpaceX, concluded two days of testimony seeking to minimize his tweets as offhand comments.
However Unsworth, his voice cracking with emotion, said Musk’s remarks about him on Twitter left him feeling “humiliated, ashamed and dirtied, Reuters Reported.
Effectively, from day one, I was given a life sentence without parole. It hurts to talk about it, Unsworth said.
Unsworth aided in the coordinate the successful rescue of the soccer team and its coach from Chiang Rai’s Tham Luang Nang Non cave in July 2018. In an interview with CNN Unsworth mocked Musk’s offer of a mini-sub. Saying it was a “P.R. stunt” and said Musk could “stick his submarine where it hurts.”
Musk, traveled to the rescue site to deliver a mini-sub, said he took to Twitter to lash out at Unsworth after seeing a CNN interview. He said his Pedo Guy tweet was because Unsworth’s remarks about him were “extremely rude and contemptuous.
Musk never intended to be taken seriously
Musk also apologized from the witness stand and expressed regret several times for his tweets. He downplayed his tweets as “off-the-cuff” retorts that he wrote in anger. Musk also said he never intended to be taken seriously.
The 64 year-old caver splits his time between Britain and Chiang Rai Thailand. He said the force of Musk’s Twitter commentary was far from a casual insult. Unsworth, 64, also said he began caving as a hobby in 1971.
“When you combine ‘sus’ and ‘ped guy,’ I took it to mean I was being branded a pedophile,” he testified.
Musk, 48, said the term “pedo guy” was a common epithet in South Africa, where he grew up.
“It’s an insult, like saying mother-effer doesn’t actually mean someone having sex with their mother,” he testified. Using a sanitized version of a more vulgar expression.
Musk also capped his two-day appearance by acknowledging under questioning that his net worth ran about $20 billion.