The latest development in the Hulk Hogan sex tape scandal and his ongoing litigation against the Gawker website for publishing excerpts of the secretly recorded footage is that The National Enquirer has claimed that The Hulkster could face jail time for alleged perjury in the case.
This comes hot on the heels of an equally sensationalistic TMZ article where Hogan's side wanted Gawker founder Nick Denton thrown in jail for allegedly leaking the story that Hogan had used racial slurs during one of the sex tapes to The National Enquirer that led to his recent WWE firing.
The perjury accusation stems from a transcript of the July 2nd pre-trial hearing in the Hogan vs. Gawker lawsuit where Gawker's attorney Seth Berlin claimed that Hogan had made conflicting statements in his depositions to them compared to what he had previously told the FBI (who investigated Keith Davidson, a Los Angeles based lawyer, for attempted extortion when he allegedly tried to get money for the tapes from Hogan). These claims were made as part of an attempt by Gawker to force the FBI's hand into removing redactions from the documents on the extortion investigation that they had received after a lengthy Freedom of Information battle.
Berlin's exact quote that was the basis of The National Enquirer's latest anti-Hogan piece was since published by David Bixenspan in full in his Saturday news update for f4wonline.com:
"But what these documents show, and then I'll come back and I can talk a little bit about the exemptions and the indexes, but let me tell you what our concern is, Your Honor. So in this investigation what we know is that Mr. Bollea -- this is not -- I'm not treading on secret ground here. What we know is that Mr. Bollea came with his lawyer, Mr. Houston, to the FBI and asked for an investigation, which they conducted. And what we know from Mr. Hardy's last declaration is that part of this investigation yielded three DVDs that have encounters involving the three key participants in this -- Mrs. Clem, Mr. Bollea, and for portions of it Mr. Clem.
Each of those people has testified differently, they have all said different things about what actually happened, when it happened, how often it happened, whether -- what was known. And so one of the reasons why we said we would like to get -- we started by just saying look, we thought we would find, which we eventually got in yesterday's stack, statements by Mr. Bollea and his lawyer, and to see whether what he was saying to the FBI matched what he is saying in our lawsuit.
Turns out, without getting into the specifics, they don't, that we have essentially under oath testimony to the FBI and we have under oath testimony in our case directly at odds with one another. So we have a situation -- and it's very unfortunate that this is two days or one business day before we're supposed to start a trial on this matter, but we have a situation where the key participant, the plaintiff, is telling us one thing under oath and telling the FBI something else. So this is why we're asking -- and you can't use that document to impeach a person if there is a bunch of blanks in it that somebody is saying well, that's private even though it's already public."
The odds of Hogan being prosecuted for perjury seem about as slim as Denton being prosecuted for illegal leaks, but if Gawker could prove that Hogan misled them in their depositions, then it would damage his credibility as a witness and hurt his case against the website.
Update: Regarding the allegations that Gawker Media illegally leaked confidential information about the contents of other sex tapes to The National Enquirer that led to the recent exposés that Hogan had used racist and homophobic slurs during his bedroom talk with Heather Cole, it's worth repeating that the company are steadfastly denying these claims. As we reported a little over ten days ago, Gawker's official statement on the matter, made by their President and General Counsel Heather Dietrick is that "Hulk Hogan has only one person to blame for what he said and no one from Gawker had any role in leaking that information."