Gawker’s John Cook Files Petition Against Hulk Hogan Sex Tape Subpoena

Executive editor for investigations files legal complaint in Manhattan Supreme Court claiming he was not involved in the dissemination of the wrestler’s sex tape

Last Updated: February 12, 2015 @ 2:24 PM

John Cook, the executive editor for investigations at Gawker Media, filed a legal complaint on Wednesday claiming that he had nothing to do with disseminating Hulk Hogan‘s embarrassing sex tape, which was released in October 2012.

In documents filed at the Manhattan Supreme Court in New York, Cook moved to quash the subpoena issued for him by the wrestler, whose real name is Terry Gene Bollea, in connection with litigation pending in Florida.

That lawsuit was sparked by a story that Gawker published on Oct. 4, 2012, regarding the sex tape which portrayed an alleged extramarital affair between Hogan and Heather Clem, the ex-wife of DJ Todd “Bubba the Love Sponge” Clem.

While Cook was a contributor to Gawker at the time, he had no involvement in the story, according to the petition. Cook also claims that the subpoena should be quashed because it was not properly served and requested that the court issue a protective order so that he does not have to appear for a deposition.

The story in question also included excerpts from the now infamous Hogan sex tape that were “one minute and forty-one seconds long, and included fewer than 10 seconds of sexual activity in grainy black and white footage. The remainder was comprised of fairly banal conversation between Hogan and Mrs. Clem.”

However, “Cook had no involvement in writing, editing or publishing the Gawker Story,” stressed the complaint.

Hogan left a copy of the subpoena at Gawker’s office on Jan. 26 of this year, compelling him to testify on Mar. 4, but it failed to provide any reason why his testimony is sought. A later clarification stated: “because of its material importance to the underlying claims and defenses in the originating case and due to your employment in various positions of control and influence at Gawker Media LLC, as well as your authorship of various Gawker.com articles concerning the subject matter of this litigation.”

According to the documents, Hogan has already taken three full-day depositions of Gawker witnesses, and Gawker is producing five additional witnesses for deposition during the week of Mar. 2, 2015. In addition to the author of the Gawker Story, these witnesses include Gawker’s CEO, its Chief Operating Officer, its Chief Technology Officer, its Chief Strategy Officer and its President of Advertising and Partnerships.”

Seth D. Berlin and Katherine M. Bolger of New York-based Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz, LLP are attorneys for Cook.

As TheWrap previously reported, Cook returned to Gawker in November 2014 after a seven-month stint at the Intercept as editor-in-chief. It marked the journalist’s second time leaving and returning to Gawker, the first being in 2010, when he departed for Yahoo News.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report. 

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