The lawyer who brought down Gawker with Hulk Hogan is now taking aim at its sister blog, Jezebel.
Hogan’s attorney Charles J. Harder filed a defamation suit Thursday against the women’s website for labeling a bizarre therapy group called Superstar Machine a “cult” — and claiming its leader, Gregory “International” Scherick, “preyed on insecure women and controlled their lives.”
In an expose published May 10, 2016, former Superstar members told Jezebel they believed they were duped into joining a “cult that preys on its members’ insecurities, exploits them financially, and isolates them.”
They claimed Superstar’s goal was to “serve the masculine” — and that Scherick “cultivated a group of women who served as his seconds-in-command, and whose role is to praise him, back up his decisions, and remind everyone coming into the group that they needed to give him ‘a good experience.’”
One former member, named “Poppy,” also told Jezebel that Scherick waxed poetic about sex and told her that “having anal sex was a marker of being a true, fierce powerful woman” and “the length of your orgasms were also markers of how intense your feminine power was.”
Scherick, in his Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit, said his personal and professional reputations have been seriously hurt by the allegations and that he’s lost members as a result of the story.
He defended his group therapy program as “not a cult by any stretch of the imagination.”
“Among other things, there is no religious component to the group. It encourages its members to become stronger individuals through certain guidance and advice,” the complaint said. “It does not attempt to instill Mr. Scherick’s opinions on its members nor does it use rewards or punishments to force members to act in a certain manner.”
The suit continued, “Mr. Scherick certainly is not worshiped, nor is he the focus of the group’s message. Rather, Mr. Scherick utilizes his coaching skills to help individuals confront their personal obstacles, which can range from past or current trauma, confidence issues, or relationship difficulties.”
Scherick is suing author Anna Merlan and former Jezebel editor-in-chief Emma Carmichael, who the lawsuit noted was the managing editor of Gawker.com when it published Hulk Hogan’s secretly recorded sex tape.
Harder represented Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, at his defamation trial against Gawker for publishing the…