The young lawyer who was at the heart of Hulk Hogan’s sex video law suit against Gawker was forced to lie about his undercover operation for years.
Aron D’Souza, 33, from Melbourne known as ‘Mr A’, was one of the masterminds, which brought down the notorious American gossip blog in 2016.
Mr D’Souza, only 26 at the time, coordinated a team of lawyers on behalf of Silicon Valley’s tech billionaire Peter Thiel, who had a long grudge against Gawker for revealing he was gay in a 2007 blog post titled ‘Peter Thiel is totally gay, people’.
‘It was this extremely tough thing to do … I couldn’t tell my boyfriend,’ Mr D’Souza, who worked on the secret plan for five years, told The Australian.
Aron D’Souza who was at the heart of Hulk Hogan’s sex video law suit against Gawker was forced to keep his operation a secret for years who was at the heart of Hulk Hogan’s sex video law suit against Gawker was forced to keep his operation a secret for years
Mr Thiel, who was determined to bring Gawker down for exposing his sexuality, turned to Mr D’Souza who had a grand plan.
Mr D’Souza’s aim was to secretly fund Hogan’s lawsuit, who had a stronger case than Mr Theil’s.
In 2012, Gawker published a sex video of Hogan being intimate with his best friend’s wife, Heather Cole, which was filmed without his consent.
During the 2016 Gawker trial, Heather Cole admitted she had sex at least four times with the wrestler.
Ms Cole said she had no idea she was being filmed during her tryst with Hogan until footage was revealed on the gossip site.
She confessed to being aware her husband at the time had installed a security camera in their bedroom for safety reasons but was not visible.
Hogan sued Gawker founder Nick Denton saying the company violated his right to privacy by publishing the 1 minute and 41 second clip on October 4, 2012.
Gawker argued the site was exercising their First Amendment right and claimed Hogan was a public figure who was of public interest.
Gawker was founded by Mr Denton and Elizabeth Spiers in New York City, attracting 23 million visits a month as ‘the source for daily Manhattan media news and gossip’.
The gossip site was constantly under scrutiny for posting content illegally obtained and violated the privacy of hundreds.
In August 2016, Gawker announced they would cease operations due to bankruptcy as a result of the Hogan law suit.
In January, Mr Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and an original Facebook investor, made an offer to buy the controversial news site after it was shut down the following the massive law suit.
The venture capitalist did not say what his motivation was for buying Gawker but would allow him to take down stories about his personal life.
Bankruptcy and legal experts tried to block Mr Thiel’s offer to buy the site, according to court papers.
The grand plan resulted in the jury awarding Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, a total of $US140 million and later settled for $US31 million.
‘I had to come up with these explanations for why I was travelling all the time,’ said the young lawyer.
‘My cover story was that I was doing intellectual property consulting … which is so boring, no one says ‘tell me more’.’
Mr D’Souza said Gawker had received over 3000 complaint letters about their content, which included celebrities, CEOs and multinational corporations, who did not have ‘the fortitude to actually do anything.’
‘I like doing things that other people think are impossible,’ he said.