Tesla CEO Elon Musk faces a defamation lawsuit after he referred to a British diver who aided last July in the rescue of a Thai youth soccer team from a cave as a pedophile, according to a report Monday.
Musk and the diver, Vernon Unsworth, engaged in a public dispute in the midst of rescue attempts after Unsworth accused the billionaire entrepreneur of only offering to aid the efforts as a “PR stunt.” Musk fired back on Twitter, referring to Unsworth as “pedo guy.”
“Despite his total lack of information supporting his false and defamatory accusations, Musk overtly conveyed to the world that he was in possession of undisclosed false and defamatory facts proving Mr. Unsworth to be guilty of the accusations,” Unsworth’s complaint said, according to Reuters.
Unsworth is seeking $75,000 in compensation as well as punitive damages. Tesla did not immediately respond to FOX Business’ request for comment on the lawsuit against Musk.
Musk initially apologized for his words toward Unsworth, tweeting that his “actions against me do not justify my actions against him,” adding that “the fault is mine and mine alone.” However, the Tesla chief later doubled down on his remarks toward Unsworth, telling a Buzzfeed News reporter that the diver moved to Thailand “for a child bride.”
Musk has drawn increased scrutiny in recent months after a series of high-profile incidents. Aside from his verbal dispute with Unsworth, Musk faces an SEC probe after claiming he had “funding secured” to take Tesla private, only to renege on the plan.
Research firm Nomura Instinet downgraded its Tesla rating last week, noting that Musk’s antics had made the company “uninvestable.”