Jurors learned Friday in Hulk Hogan’s $100 million privacy suit against Gawker that the gossip site decided to run a story about a very drunk young woman who engaged in sex in a bar bathroom stall — despite frantic pleas by the anonymous college student who may have been raped — because it was “newsworthy” and “the truth, which can be hurtful.”
Hulk Hogan’s lawyers presented the evidence by reading 2010 emails between ex-Gawker editor A.J. Daulerio, when he was working for the company’s sports site Deadspin, and the Bloomington, Ind., woman.
“I’m writing in regard to having the post be removed from the website,” the unidentified co-ed wrote to Gawker. “I’m asking you to cease and desist the use of that video. I am the girl in it and it was stolen from me and put up without my permission,” she explained of the May 2010 post.
“Blah, blah blah,” Daulerio blithely replied.
In a followup email, Daulerio wrote, “We’re not going to take it down. The best advice I can give you right now: do not make a big deal out of this because” the video was of poor quality and “you’re not identified.”
He added, “I’m sure it’s embarrassing but these things do pass, keep your head up.”
The woman emailed back saying, “I understand it’s blurry but people who know the people in the video can clearly see and know that it is them. I need this taken down.”
She continues, “This is very serious and involves a lot more than a simple mistake.
“You should seriously consider taking this off the website because things like this can spiral out of control.”
But Daulerio wasn’t moved. Instead, he lawyered up.
“This is a news story, and completely newsworthy,” Gawker’s attorney, Gaby Darbyshire, told the woman in an email.
“It’s the truth, which can be hurtful, granted, but one’s actions can have unintended consequences … we believe that we are publishing this legitimately and as such, we will not remove the clip,” she wrote.
A 2011 GQ profile titled “The Worldwide Leader in Dong Shots” labeled Daulerio’s decision to post the video as being among his “darkest moments” and asks whether he has a soul.
Gawker later reversed course and removed the post, with Daulerio admitting regrets to GQ magazine because the video “wasn’t funny” and “was possibly rape.”
Daulerio, 41, stared straight ahead in the courtroom as one male juror repeatedly shot angry glances over his dark-rimmed glasses at the former Gawker editor while Hogan attorney Shane Vogt read the email exchange.
Vogt also played a clip of a 2013 deposition with Daulerio in which he was asked if he did any reporting to determine what exactly was happening on that bathroom floor.
“Before posting this video, did you try to determine whether the sex was consensual?” a Hogan attorney asked.
“As far as I knew, it was consensual,” Daulerio answered.
“Did you contact the subject of the video?” the attorney pressed.
“Um, no, I did not,” Daulerio admitted.
Just as the young woman predicted, the damage was done and couldn’t be reversed as the posting had spread to other sites.
Daulerio told GQ in the 2011 profile that the girl’s distraught dad had also contacted him. Daulerio recalled the conversation in his own, crass words: “The guy is like, ‘You gotta understand, I’ve just been dealing with watching my daughter get f—ed in a pile of piss for the past two days.’ “