Elon Musk sued by British cave rescue diver for $75K

The diver, whom Musk alleged was a "pedo guy," filed a suit in California and plans one in the UK.

Marrian Zhou Staff Reporter
Marrian Zhou is a Beijing-born Californian living in New York City. She joined CNET as a staff reporter upon graduation from Columbia Journalism School. When Marrian is not reporting, she is probably binge watching, playing saxophone or eating hot pot.
Marrian Zhou
2 min read
Elon Musk

Elon Musk may face more than one lawsuit from the British rescue diver. 

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A British diver who helped rescue a team of boys in Thailand sued  Elon Musk  for defamation for calling him a "pedo guy," the first of what appears to be a pair of lawsuits against the billionaire. 

Vernon Unsworth, a 63-year-old British diver who helped rescue a Thai soccer team, filed a suit against Musk on Monday in the Central District Court of California. The suit says Unsworth is also looking to file a separate legal action Musk in UK.

"As one of the highest-profile and wealthiest individuals in the world, Musk knew that this accusations against Mr. Unsworth would be conveyed to a worldwide audience and would result in the accusations receiving massive publicity," said the lawsuit. "A separate action for the reputational damage to Mr. Unsworth suffered in England and Wales will be filed and pursued against Musk in the High Court of London."

The lawsuit comes after weeks of Musk taunting Unsworth, whom he alleged without evidence of being pedophile after the British cave diver criticized the Tesla CEO's plan to rescue the group of boys in a submarine in July. At the time, Unsworth said he was considering legal action against Musk. Under pressure, Musk apologized later that month.

But the billionaire didn't back down from the drama. In August, Musk questioned why Unsworth hadn't sued him yet. And in September, he doubled-down on his claims that Unsworth was a "child rapist," who had moved to Thailand to take a child bride in an email sent to Buzzfeed. Musk offered no evidence to support his claims, which L. Lin Wood, Unsworth's attorney, denied.

Unsworth started caving when he was 16 years old and was involved in several cave rescues in the UK, according to the lawsuit. He met his current girlfriend in Thailand in 2011. She is a 40-year old owner of a local nail salon.

On June. 24, Unsworth received a phone call from his girlfriend's father about the cave incident. He traveled to the cave on the same day and began assisting in the rescue, according the lawsuit. 

In the California lawsuit, Unsworth is seeking $75,000 for damage to his reputation and a retraining order that prevents Musk from making further public accusations. He is also looking to sue Musk in the UK in a separate lawsuit.

"Elon Musk falsely accused Vernon Unsworth of being guilty of heinous crimes," L. Lin Wood, one of the attorneys for Unsworth, said in an emailed statement. "Musk's influence and wealth cannot convert his lies into truth or protect him from accountability for his wrongdoing in a court of law."

A representative for Musk didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.