Hulk Hogan Testifies He 'Just Gave in and Let My Guard Down' During Secretly Taped Sexual Encounter
Hogan testified he had "bottomed out" in life because of his dissolving marriage
brightcove.createExperiences(); During his testimony Monday in his $100 million lawsuit against Gawker Media for posting a secretly-recorded sex tape of him online, pro wrestler Hulk Hogan said he had “bottomed out” in life and “just gave in and let my guard down” at the time of the sexual encounter.
Hogan, 62, is going by his legal name, Terry Bollea, at the trial. He claims his privacy was violated when Gawker posted a portion of a video in 2012 showing him having sex with Heather Clem, the former wife of his then-friend Todd Clem, a.k.a. Bubba the Love Sponge, a radio shock jock, who filmed the encounter.
Hogan, wearing a black suit, a silver chain with a cross and a black bandana, estimated that he had sex with Clem three or four times. He said this occurred while his marriage was dissolving
“A lot of things were happening at the same time,” he said. “I was trying unsuccessfully to get my wife back. She told me verbally over and over, ‘You’re too old, you’re too slow, you don’t turn me on. I want to find somebody younger.’ ”
He testified that Bubba had been a confidante to him during this time and that Bubba – who, Hogan said, openly talks about his open marriage on air – pushed him to have sex with his wife. Hogan testified that Bubba had told him many times before, ” ‘Heather wants to see you naked. Heather wants to have sex with you.’ ”
Hogan said that the Clem home “was a place where I felt safe, as crazy as it sounds.” He added, “I thought those people loved me.”
On the night in 2007 he believes the video was taken, the couple answered the door with a “group hug,” Hogan testified.
“Then, Heather just started walking toward the bedroom, holding my hand, and I walked with her. It felt really crazy. Bubba walked in behind us and said, ‘Okay guys, I’m going to my office. Here’s a condom.’
“It didn’t make sense but it just happened. My gut was telling me, ‘This is wrong. This is crazy.’ Everything was just so surreal.”
Hogan: Sex Tape ‘Turned My World Upside Down’
Hogan said that Bubba’s recording the tape was a betrayal of their friendship.
“I felt numb,” he said of the release of the tape. “The news just hit me that they told me that Bubba was on the end of the tape saying, ‘Heather, this is our retirement.’ ”
“My hands started shaking…. I could not stop shaking,” he testified, adding, “It turned my world upside down.”
He said, “I was embarrassed by what it did to me as a person, but it was even embarrassing as a character. Hulk Hogan was embarrassed.”
Before Hogan took the stand, the jury heard from Heather Clem in a videotaped deposition, who said that her husband was prone to “exaggerated behavior” and could be “manipulative, selfish, intimidating and hurtful.”
She she was aware that there were cameras in the home, but she said, “I’m not aware that Bubba ever told me that there would be a camera in our bedroom.”
During cross examination of Hogan, defense lawyer Michael Sullivan played several clips of Hogan on radio and television mentioning security cameras in the Clem home.
Hogan testified, “Yeah, I knew Bubba had security cameras. I was never told he had a camera in the bedroom pointed directly at his bed.”
Gawker: Hogan Has Been Open With His Sex Life in the Media
Gawker has held that posting the sex tape is protected by the First Amendment, and that Hogan’s complaint is undermined because, Gawker claims, he has publicly boasted about his sex life.
“Hulk Hogan was more than willing to talk about his sex life – including in two autobiographies, a reality TV series and Howard Stern’s radio show – until he didn’t like what Gawker had to say. Now he wants $100 million as compensation,” the company said in a statement to PEOPLE.
During his opening statement, Gawker attorney Michael Berry said Hogan has “talked about private things [in the media], deeply personal things. Things like an affair he had with another woman during his marriage to [ex-wife] Linda.”
He also said Gawker did not make any money from the sex tape post.
Berry also discussed Gawker’s founding editor, Nick Denton, saying Denton’s mother was a Hungarian Jewish woman who survived the Nazis.
[Denton] wants people to know that Gawker Media is not beholden to the elites. He wants the public to have the truth – the simple, unvarnished truth.”
Gawker released a statement to PEOPLE after Monday’s testimony, saying, “Today in court we heard Terry Bollea state that he’s in character as ‘Hulk Hogan’ virtually 24 hours a day (whenever he’s not home is the way he put it) – also acknowledging that as ‘Hulk Hogan’ he regularly takes ‘artistic liberty’ and does not tell the truth.”
Hogan’s Attorney: Gawker’s Motivation Was ‘Power and Profit’
Hogan’s attorney, Shane Vogt, said in his opening statement that “the defendant made a conscious decision to expose Terry Bollea naked, engaged in sex and having private conversations. Engaged in one of the most intimate of human acts. They made a conscious decision to expose him to the entire world.”
Vogt said that there was no legitimate news value to the clip, and that it went “beyond all bounds of decency.”
“The reason they posted this video and the reason they kept it up was for power and profit,” Vogt said. “They wanted to inflict harm and they wanted to make money.”
Judge’s Ruling: Hogan Legal Team Can’t Cite Erin Andrews Case
Last Friday, Judge Pamela Campbell granted a motion by Gawker’s lawyers to exclude evidence related to the case of Erin Andrews, the sportscaster who was awarded $55 million by a Tennessee jury on Monday in damages after a secretly-recorded nude video of her was posted online.
CNN Money reports that Campbell said she wanted to avoid “confusion on the legal issues.”
In an interview with CNN Money last month, Hogan’s attorney Charles Harder said Hogan’s case was similar to Andrews’s.
“What’s interesting is that I get this sense that the public and media are so in favor of Erin Andrews,” Harder said. “But for some reason, Hulk Hogan gets treated a different way.”
• Reporting by DEVAN LESLEY