Graphic account of Hulk Hogan sex tape read in Florida court

Tue Mar 15, 2016 6:30pm EDT
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By Letitia Stein

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Reuters) - Gawker founder Nick Denton read out a graphic account of the acts shown in a sex tape featuring wrestling celebrity Hulk Hogan in a Florida courtroom on Tuesday, saying his company's 2012 online publication "stands up to the test of time."

Gawker was sued for $100 million by Hogan, who says the release violated his privacy. The New York-based media company could be forced out of business by an unfavorable verdict in a civil trial testing the limits of freedom of the press.

Hogan's attorneys asked Denton, a high-profile figure in the world of Web publishing, to read aloud a very explicit article accompanying the video, which he did in an even tone.

The lawsuit centers on the one-minute, 41-seconds of video that Gawker excerpted from the sex tape of unknown origin. It has not yet been shown to the jury in St. Petersburg, Florida, near Hogan's home.

The clip shows Hogan's tryst with the wife of his then-best friend, radio "shock jock" personality Bubba the Love Sponge. Hogan says their consensual encounter was recorded without his knowledge five years before Gawker's posting.

Denton said he had not watched the video, nor read the article before publication. He described his role as broadly overseeing the portfolio of websites under Gawker media.

Still, he stood by the piece as in keeping with Gawker's mission to produce "true and interesting" journalism.

"The piece had value. It was true. It was a story honestly told and it was interesting to millions of people," Denton said.   Continued...

Terry Bollea, aka Hulk Hogan, takes the oath in court during his trial against Gawker Media, in St Petersburg, Florida March 8, 2016. REUTERS/Tampa Bay Times/John Pendygraft/Pool