Hulk Hogan Trial Update: Jury Hears Lover’s Testimony
Jurors in the $100 million invasion of privacy trial between wrestling superhero Hulk Hogan and gossip-site Gawker heard the previously recorded deposition of Heather Cole — formerly Heather Clem, ex-wife of radio personality Bubba the Love Sponge — better known as the woman Hogan was caught having an affair with in a secretly videotaped intimate rendezvous dating back to 2006. She testified that her former husband told her to have sex with Hogan but never informed her that the encounter was going to be filmed. She further testified that she was horrified when Bubba showed her the sex tape, after which she asked him to destroy it. Believing he had done so, Cole said she hadn’t given the tape anymore thought until it resurfaced on the internet six years later.
Playing the role of the victim, Cole’s taped deposition — which was done before the trial commenced last week — painted her ex-husband as an emotionally abusive and intimidating man who would himself choose other men for her to sleep with. Bubba the Love Sponge has refused to testify in the case, invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
The testimony came on the eighth day of trial, where Gawker also put Peter Horan, a media analyst, on the stand. He testified that the sex tape increased the site’s value by only about $11,000, as he explained that no direct revenue was made on the posting because Gawker was unable to attach any advertisements to it. This line of testimony was consistent with what was said by Gawker’s other witnesses the preceding day. On that date, Gawker’s current senior vice president of global sales and partnerships, Mia Libby, and former COO Scott Kidder described in detail to the jury the actual value that the tape brought to the site, characterizing it as “minimal.” They further testified that most of the money Gawker makes is ad-driven.
This came as a response to undercut an expert witness of Hogan’s who had previously testified last week that it was his opinion the value of the site increased about $10 million due to the sex tape’s publication, mostly through internet traffic being drawn to the site and people clicking on other articles.