ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – Hulk Hogan may be the best known professional wrestler in the world, but he claims the release of a sex tape and an audio transcript from the tape have ruined his career.
Hogan is suing the web site Gawker for more than $100 million dollars for releasing the video. The video was recorded several years ago in the home of radio personality Bubba the Love Sponge Clem and shows Hogan, who’s real name is Terry Bollea, having sex with Clem’s wife.
Clem and his wife divorced after the tape was made public. Gawker published a portion of the tape in 2012, and Hogan has been involved in a lawsuit against them since then.
Thursday Hogan walked into a Pinellas County Courtroom wearing a black suit and black bandanna on his head. The judge in the case had to give special permission for Hogan to be allowed to wear the bandanna in court. Most people are asked to remove any hats or headwear during court proceedings.
Thursday’s hearing was for pre-trial motions in the case.
Gawker Attorneys are seeking to have a number of documents in the case unsealed and made public.
“You have a high profile case, with members of the media sitting out here with us today, sitting on the front stoops of the court, it involves an international celebrity, it involves one of the most highly read web sites in America today. It involves significant issues about the right to privacy, what does a person have a right to control of themselves, significant issues about the first amendment and the free press and what it’s free to publish about celebrities in this day and age,” said Gawker attorney Michael Berry in court.
Berry contends the public has the right to see what is in the sealed court file.
” This is not a system of secret justice. This is the United States of America as you said, it’s a wonderful system. This is the system that we live in, it’s not the Soviet Union in the 60’s and 70’s,” said Berry.
Attorney’s for Hogan contend unsealing the documents would further violate his privacy rights.
“This case is about one video, that was posted on a web site and whether it was newsworthy, period. That’s it. This case isn’t about race, it’s not about an extortion investigation and it’s not about other tapes,” said Hogan attorney Shane Vogt.
The judge ruled in Hogan’s favor, keeping much of the court file sealed.
The trial is set to go before a jury in 2016.