A jury found that Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk did not commit defamation on Friday after he had tweeted some inflammatory comments about British caver Vernon Unsworth last year.
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“My faith in humanity has been restored,” Musk said to the Los Angeles courtroom after the jury’s verdict was rendered.
Taking less than three hours to deliberate, the jury decided that Musk’s tweets towards Unsworth, which included the Tesla and SpaceX founder calling him “sus,” suspicious or suspect, and a “pedo guy,” in reference to the term pedophile, did not constitute defamation.
Musk even tempted fate upon tweeting “don’t you think it’s strange he hasn’t sued me?” in August 2018. A month after that tweet, Unsworth filed the lawsuit against Musk.
During Musk’s testimony, he apologized to Unsworth while distancing himself from his recent claims, telling the court that he did not actually think Unsworth was a pedophile.
Musk’s legal team claimed that the insults levied at the cave explorer were nothing more than opinion and not any factual statement, with lead attorney Alex Spiro distancing Musk’s “pedo guy” slight was nothing more than a phrase to describe “creepy old guys.” Musk’s lawyers even insinuated that Unsworth’s lawsuit was an attempt at a money grab while telling the court that Unsworth had not been negatively affected by Musk’s “pedo guy” insult.
Unsworth’s lawyer called Musk a “liar” and “the billionaire bully,” while characterizing Musk’s “pedo guy” tweet as dropping “a nuclear bomb on Vernon Unsworth,” the effect of which would last for decades.
The two men began to quarrel after Unsworth panned Musk for involving himself in the July 2018 rescue of a boys’ soccer team from a flooded cave in Thailand. Being a cave explorer, Unsworth was crucial in helping authorities remove the 12 boys and their coach and has since been credited with their rescue.
This story contains material from the Associated Press