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Elon Musk reportedly victorious in 'pedo guy' defamation case

A jury ruled he's not liable for damages, reporters said.

Elon Musk
Elon Musk was reportedly found not liable for damages in a defamation case brought by a British cave diver.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Tesla CEO Elon Musk was found not liable for damages in a defamation case, according to a Buzzfeed News reporter sitting in on the trial Friday afternoon. The case was brought against him by British cave diver Vernon Unsworth, whom Musk called a "pedo guy", last year. Jurors found in favor of the billionaire, according to a reporter from The Verge. A jury of five women and three men deliberated for under an hour​ before making the decision, CNET sister site CBS News reported.

In July 2018, Musk had called Unsworth, a diver who helped rescue a boys' soccer team trapped in a Thai cave, a "pedo guy" on Twitter after the diver criticized Musk's proposed submarine rescue plan. Unsworth sued Musk for defamation in September 2018, saying the tweet damaged him by associating his name with pedophilia.

Musk apologized for the tweet during the first day of the trial, held this week in the US District Court in Los Angeles, and on Wednesday he reiterated that "pedo guy" was meant as an insult, not a statement of fact, according to CNBC.

Musk added he wasn't aware of his precise net worth, but estimated it as being around $20 billion.

On Wednesday, Unsworth testified that he took Musk's tweet literally and felt "humiliated" and "ashamed," CNN reported. "I'm not sure of how many times it was repeated, but it was essentially my name was being tied to being a pedophile," Unsworth reportedly said Wednesday. 

During closing arguments Friday, Unsworth's attorney reportedly called Musk a "billionaire bully" and suggested the Tesla CEO pay $190 million in damages. "He dropped a nuclear bomb on Vernon Unsworth," Reuters reported the attorney arguing.

Attorneys for Musk and Unsworth didn't respond to requests from CNET for comment earlier in the week.

As he left court Friday, Musk reportedly said, "my faith in humanity is restored." 

Originally published Dec. 6, 2:55 p.m. PT. Update, 5:08 p.m.: Adds details from CBS News.