The Wild Scandal That Landed Eric Dane And His Ex-Wife In A Lawsuit

Eric Dane played Dr. Mark Sloane on "Grey's Anatomy" for eight years before hanging up his scalpel in 2012, then returning for a brief visit in Season 17. The actor admitted to "Redeeming Love" that despite the drama making him a household name, Eric never watched "Grey's Anatomy." That may seem weird to some. Still, given the wild scandal that resulted in Eric and his ex-wife, Rebecca Gayheart, filing a lawsuit, his tastes appear to run to more adult fare than regular broadcast TV.

Per People, Eric and Gayheart married in a 2004 Sin City ceremony. They welcomed their daughter, Billie Dane, in 2010, and Georgia Dane followed a year later. Everything appeared peachy, but beneath the surface, Eric was struggling. "Eric Dane voluntarily checked himself into a treatment facility to help him get off of pain medication that he was prescribed for a sports injury," his rep announced in 2011.

Following treatment, Eric fell into a deep depression. "It felt odd to me. I didn't really feel I had anything to be depressed about," he later told "Today." Throughout his battles, Gayheart had been his biggest supporter. However, in 2018, she filed for divorce. News of the split shocked fans as the couple had weathered so much, including the infamous 2009 sex scandal. So, how salacious was their supposed impropriety? Well, strip off your bathing suits and grab a cocktail; we're diving into the wild scandal that resulted in Eric Dane and Rebecca Gayheart filing a lawsuit.

The McSteamy three

In 2009, Eric Dane and Rebecca Gayheart became embroiled in a wild scandal that ended in a lawsuit. Tabloid editors were salivating after Dane's personal life was revealed to be even more racy than his McSteamy on-screen persona's. It all started after Gawker posted a leaked "naked threesome" tape on its Defamer blog. It captured the unclad couple downing drinks in a hot tub while getting cozy with an equally nude 2004 Miss United States Teen winner Kari Ann Peniche.

Gawker ran a run-down on the tabloid frenzy that followed Defamer's big reveal. "Rub-a-Dub-Dub...Three in a Tub!" screamed a Star magazine headline, branding Peniche "a notorious Hollywood madam." In Touch Weekly asked, "Can their marriage survive?" claiming the couple was "[struggling] with another public scandal." Meanwhile, per People, the Twitterverse went into meltdown. "Eric Dane has made a sex tape. See, people? God does answer prayers," one user wrote. "Eric Dane & Rebecca Gayheart have a druggy sex tape w/ an old beauty queen. NSFW. FUNNY!" another posted.

The now-defunct Gawker Media was laughing all the way to the bank as their traffic surged. However, the smile was quickly wiped off its face after Dane and Gayheart slapped the company with a $1 million lawsuit for copyright infringement. Daily News reports that the actors were victorious in their legal battle. Gawker was ordered to remove the video, which had racked up over 4 million views, and make a six-figure payment to Dane and Gayheart.

Regrets? Not even a few

Eric Dane and Rebecca Gayheart could have been left red-faced and repentant after Gawker Media attempted to publicly shame them by posting a private video of the couple letting it all hang out in a hot tub with Kari Ann Peniche. However, the actors refused to be contrite. They chose to own it. "Looking back now, was it a mistake? Absolutely not. Three consenting adults, one of them being my wife? I wasn't doing anything wrong," Dane told Glamour. "We were just three people taking a bath," he continued. Dane said he had "no regrets" and refused to "make any apologies for my life experience. It's my life experience, and I am at peace with all of it."

Meanwhile, despite her filing for divorce in 2018, there are questions about whether Gayhart and Dane are still together. "My ex Eric and I, we are friends, and we are doing our best to co-parent and maintain a family, even though we're not married," Gayheart told People in 2019. "Legally, we're still married but separated."

Confused? So was the Superior Court of Los Angeles County. Later that same year, they warned the couple that their divorce petition might be thrown out if they didn't get a move on and finalize it. Gayheart and Dane didn't heed the warning. Instead, they're keeping people guessing. "This is us, family vacay 2022," Gayheart captioned an adorable pic of a grinning Dane, jumping for joy with his brood in France.