Thursday, June 21, 2018
News Roundup

Jury selected in Hulk Hogan sex tapes trial

ST. PETERSBURG — After four days of fielding questions about their feelings on wrestler Hulk Hogan and the bounds of the First Amendment, nine jurors were chosen Friday to decide a case that tests the limits of freedom of the press.

The six jurors and three alternates were seated for the trial of a $100 million invasion of privacy lawsuit brought by Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, against the New York news website Gawker. At issue is an excerpt of a videotape Gawker published in 2012 that shows Bollea having sex with the wife of his former best friend, Tampa DJ Bubba the Love Sponge Clem.

According to Bollea, the video was made without his knowledge.

The nine jurors, most of them women, were culled from a large pool. Some 500 potential jurors were summoned, all from Pinellas County, where the sex tape was made.

Some tried to get themselves excused as quickly as possibly, practically begging not to spend two weeks of their lives listening to the tawdry details of the case.

Others were let go after saying they already held strong views on Bollea's personality and exploits, or on the news media in general. Few had ever heard of Gawker.

Attorneys for Gawker argue that Bollea has boasted about his sexual prowess for years, often in forums with large audiences, such as radio or TV shows. By writing and speaking about his sex life, he has made it a matter of public interest, they say, and fair game for reporters.

"I have an issue with 'public concern,' " said one woman, who was later excluded from the jury. "I'm not sure how a sex tape is any of my concern. I just don't understand how that's freedom of speech."

The six women and three men seated on the jury reported knowing next to nothing about the case, and having a range of views on the press.

"I think people in general have to take the media with a grain of salt," said one man.

"If I find something of interest or concern to me, I tend to look it up," said a woman chosen for the jury. "I tend to do a lot of investigating."

On Friday, shortly after jurors were dismissed and told to return Monday for the trial, attorneys announced an unexpected twist in the case.

Todd Clem, who formally changed his name to Bubba the Love Sponge, was suddenly refusing to testify. The man who made the video, without whom this four-year legal saga and its attendant exorbitant legal fees could not exist, had decided to exercise his right to remain silent.

Tampa criminal defense attorney Mark O'Brien, who is representing Clem in this matter, said that if called to the stand his client would invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege. He declined to discuss Clem's reasoning.

Attorneys for Gawker called the radio DJ's decision "troubling" and suggested he may have lied during his deposition and was attempting to avoid incriminating himself.

"It appears Mr. Clem may have perjured himself," said Gawker attorney Michael Berry.

While Bollea's attorneys did not plan to call Clem to testify, Gawker's legal team considered his testimony — and the chance to cross-examine him — a vital part of their case. They claim Clem has repeatedly changed his story of the sex tape's making, including whether Bollea knew he was on camera.

"I would disagree that Bubba thinks he perjured himself," said Bollea attorney Kenneth Turkel. "I have no idea what he thinks."

Contact Anna M. Phillips at [email protected] or (813) 226-3354. Follow @annamphillips.

Comments
Rays journal: 7 pitches, 3 straight homers prove too much in loss to Astros

Rays journal: 7 pitches, 3 straight homers prove too much in loss to Astros

HOUSTON — The Rays were engaged in a third straight tight, go-either-way battle with the defending champ Astros on Wednesday.Until they were not.A brutal seven-pitch sequence by starter Nathan Eovaldi changed everything, as he gave up three con...
Updated: 4 hours ago
The Daystarter: Victor Hedman is the NHL’s best (defender); how did 15 families sign a lease for the same home?; read the latest report on CareerSource

The Daystarter: Victor Hedman is the NHL’s best (defender); how did 15 families sign a lease for the same home?; read the latest report on CareerSource

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.• Today is also the official start of summer, not that anyone will be able to tell. It will be hot and muggy with just a 30 percent chance of rain heading into Friday, according to 10We...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Romano: Intrigue behind all those manicured lawns

Romano: Intrigue behind all those manicured lawns

I’ve always thought homeowners associations had a lot in common with cops.People love to complain about them and often accuse them of abusing their power. And yet as soon as a neighbor paints his house a hot shade of fuchsia, you’re screaming for the...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Rays see the results of keeping a good, young core group together

Rays see the results of keeping a good, young core group together

HOUSTON — The Rays saw a lot on the weeklong trip that ended with Wednesday's game against that Astros, beyond the street hustlers prowling in Times Square and the urban cowboys and girls parading through H-town.There was an impressive debuting...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Kevin Knox poised to become Tampa Bay’s highest NBA draft pick

Kevin Knox poised to become Tampa Bay’s highest NBA draft pick

Kevin Knox Sr. was watching the NFL draft 24 years ago when the phone rang. Buffalo coach Marv Levy was on the other line."Marv said they were taking me," said Knox Sr., a standout receiver at FSU.Soon after, Knox Sr. saw his name scroll across ESPN'...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Lightning’s Victor Hedman wins NHL’s Norris Trophy

Lightning’s Victor Hedman wins NHL’s Norris Trophy

Victor Hedman, a relentless part of the Lightning's push to the Eastern Conference final last season, was honored Wednesday night with the Norris Trophy, given to the NHL's top defenseman."To the Lightning organization, Mr. Jeff Vinik, Steve Yzerman ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Astros game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Astros game

RHP Nathan Eovaldi said before his rough start Wednesday against the Astros that he was pitching better than his numbers showed. Well … In four starts since his six no-hit innings debut, he's 0-3 with a 6.17 ERA, allowing eight homers, four Wed...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Report: Bucs QB Jameis Winston bracing for suspension from NFL

Report: Bucs QB Jameis Winston bracing for suspension from NFL

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston could be suspended for up to three games  next season following the league's investigation into allegations he groped a female Uber driver in Arizona in 2016, a Tallahassee radio station reported.Jeff Cameron, a&#...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Passengers on fatal Southwest flight sue airline and manufacturers of plane and engine

Passengers on fatal Southwest flight sue airline and manufacturers of plane and engine

Eight passengers who were aboard a Southwest Airlines flight that was forced to make an emergency landing in Philadelphia after one of its engines blew apart filed suit Wednesday against the airline, Boeing and the companies that manufactured the eng...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Former employee sued by Tesla says he was a whistleblower

Former employee sued by Tesla says he was a whistleblower

Tesla sued a former employee Wednesday, accusing the man of hacking the automaker’s computer systems and stealing company secrets, shedding light on what chief Elon Musk had suggested was the work of a secretive internal saboteur.But the employee, Ma...
Updated: 7 hours ago