CNN anchor Don Lemon has been accused of sexual assault. According to a suit filed Sunday, Dustin Hice, 38, is seeking unspecified damages for “emotional pain and suffering” stemming from an encounter between the two at a Hamptons bar last summer.
In the complaint, obtained by Mediaite, Hice says the incident took place at Sag Harbor dive bar Murf’s in July 2018. After recognizing the anchor, Hice “tried to get Mr. Lemon’s attention and offered to buy Mr. Lemon a drink,” the suit claims. The suit says Lemon declined, stating he was “just trying to have a good time.”
In an interview with the New York Post, Hice made it clear that he was not flirting with Lemon. “I absolutely wasn’t hitting on him whatsoever,’’ he said. “I’m a heterosexual male.”
But that later in the night, the suit says, Lemon approached Hice. “Mr. Lemon, who was wearing a pair of shorts, sandals, and a t-shirt, put his hand down the front of his own shorts, and vigorously rubbed his genitalia, removed his hand and shoved his index and middle fingers in Plaintiff’s moustache and under Plaintiff’s nose,” the suit says.
Hice’s complaint says Lemon repeatedly shoved his fingers in Hice’s face and asked, “Do you like pussy or dick?” Hice claims he left the bar “shocked and humiliated.”
“I had to go into work the next day, and by then, people all across town knew it,’’ Hice told The Post. “It spread like wildfire. And I had people coming in that week and ordering Lemon Drops and being like, ‘Give me two.’”
Hice says in his suit that he suffered “severe emotional stress and loss of future earnings and opportunities.”
Lemon, 53, who is gay and married, has responded to the allegations via a statement from CNN to press.
“The plaintiff in this lawsuit has previously displayed a pattern of contempt for CNN on his social media accounts,” the cable news outlet told Deadline. “This claim follows his unsuccessful threats and demands for an exorbitant amount of money from Don Lemon. Don categorically denies these claims and this matter does not merit any further comment at this time.”
Social media accounts belonging to Hice have been deleted, Mediaite reports, also noting information from a source close to Lemon that says Hice demanded $1.5 million from Lemon in exchange for not filing the suit. Lemon refused, the source told Mediaite, claiming he had done nothing wrong.
Hice’s attorney’s gave a statement to Mediaite in response to CNN’s statement:
“The assertion that Mr. Hice would put himself through the painful process of filing a sexual assault lawsuit against his attacker all because he doesn’t like a cable TV station is ludicrous. Rather, he took down his social media accounts on the day he filed the lawsuit against Don Lemon because he’s a private citizen and wants to protect himself from CNN’s heavy-handed tactics.”
Read the full complaint here.