Elon Musk to face trial over 'pedo' claim against rescue diver

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Elon Musk to face trial over 'pedo' claim against rescue diver

A hot potato: Following the daring rescue of 12 boys and their soccer coach from a Thai cave, Elon Musk called one of the cave divers "pedo guy" after his own plan to help was branded a "PR stunt".

The verbal sparring match unfolded last summer after the underwater rescue of youth football players trapped in a Thailand cave.

A federal court judge in Los Angeles set an October 22 trial date in a Friday court filing that rejected Musk's attempt to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed by British diver Vernon Unsworth. Additional emails from Musk to Buzzfeed allegedly involved the business magnate saying Unsworth-who was instrumental in the retrieval of a Thai youth soccer team who almost drowned in a cave-had moved to Southeast Asia to take a 12-year-old "child bride".

He said he became a target for Musk after saying on CNN that a mini-submarine offered for the rescue by Musk from his company SpaceX, where he is also chief executive, was a "PR stunt" and that Musk could "stick his submarine where it hurts".

Per a report by The Verge, Judge Wilson wrote that Musk "did not call [Unsworth] a "pedo guy" and leave it there". Musk then compounded the problem by adding "bet ya a signed dollar it's true".

Musk's request to disregard the defamation suit was ultimately denied, likely due in part to an email he reportedly sent to Buzzfeed which reiterated his statements about Unsworth, supposedly calling him a "child rapist".

In seeking a dismissal, Musk's lawyers said such comments were "imaginative" or "over-the-top" insults that constituted protected opinion under the US First Amendment.

Mr Musk's lawyers argued that because his statement was made on Twitter, it was protected opinion under the US First Amendment and declared that "the public knew from the outset that Musk's insults were not meant to be statements of fact".

Taken together, they allowed Judge Wilson to conclude "There is nothing about the context in which [Musk] made the statements.that would create doubt as to whether [Musk's] statements implied assertions of objective fact".

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