Hulk Hogan’s Sex Tape Trial Is Already Making History

06.18.15 4 years ago 23 Comments
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Here are some words you’d never think would be strung together, let alone true: “Hulk Hogan’s penis could bring down a media empire.”

Back in 2012, Gawker received an anonymously delivered DVD featuring just over half an hour of footage of Hulk Hogan running wild on his best friend’s wife back in 2006. It was explained that the source wanted no money for the sex tape, just simply that the tape be watched. Not only did staff watch, they posted a heavily edited highlight reel, and lengthy description of the tape. The video was removed after court intervention, but if you’ve ever wanted to read one of the least-arousing descriptions of two people having sex this side of fanfiction.net, there’s your chance.

Gawker has already spent more than $1 million fighting the suit, and could stand to lose a lot more. Nautilus Insurance Company, the company that insures Gawker Media against liability, made it clear last year that they had no intention of indemnifying the company for their accrued legal expenses, which had only reached $600k at the time.

Three years after we all discovered how big the WWE legend’s hog really is, the $100 million lawsuit is about to go to trial. The proceedings, set to begin July 6, will not only set a legal precedent, but also feature some of the sexiest (read: grossest) evidence introduced yet. Via the Hollywood Reporter:

In an effort to show the sex tape qualifies as “newsworthy,” Gawker is seeking to introduce evidence that Hogan has injected his sexual prowess into the public sphere by fondling women’s breasts for a Rocky III publicity photo shoot and discussing in interviews where on a woman he likes to ejaculate, the size of his genitalia and the use of his mustache when performing oral sex.

The trial will also bring the First Amendment into the debate, one which Hogan’s attorneys feel confident in winning:

“The First Amendment has limitations. In Florida, it is a crime of video voyeurism to film someone naked without their permission, or to publish that footage. Doing so is against the law and not protected by the First Amendment.” (via CNN Money)

Nick Denton, founder of Gawker Media, says that there’s a one in 10 chance of disaster striking. Denton has a well-documented history of voraciously defending the right to report on the private lives of celebrities, elevating what some view as gossip and invasion of privacy to “newsworthy journalism.”

“I take no pleasure in your embarrassment, but this was a story we had to write: It was true and it was interesting. You let the genie out of the bottle; you boasted about your sexual conquests endlessly. And you took up a celebrity perk — an invitation to have sex with a fan’s wife — without thinking through the consequences. We take responsibility for our journalists’ words and actions; take responsibility for yours.” — Nick Denton, via the Hollywood Reporter

Hogan’s is the first celebrity sex tape trial to ever make it to a jury. Losing to Hogan would have a massive impact on Gawker financially, forcing them to either sell the company outright, or have most of the company’s equity taken over by outside investors. Denton has often refused these outside investments, with his family owning 68 percent of the company, with the remainder held by those within Gawker Media. A loss could also have a massive impact on media reporting, with some viewing a win as setting a dangerous precedent that could be used in the future to dispute cases involving freedom of the press.

Gawker better hope their lawyers have said their prayers and taken their vitamins, because Hogan is bound and determined to walk away the victor. As he said to the Hollywood Reporter:

“I have never been afraid to fight for what I think is right. I promised in the beginning that I would see this through to the end to hold Gawker accountable. And I will.”

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