A Hamptons bartender is suing Don Lemon, accusing the CNN anchorman of sexual assault in July 2018.
According to the lawsuit, which was first reported by Mediate, Mr. Lemon made a crude pass at bartender Dustin Hice at Murf’s, a dive bar at Sag Harbor, and made a vulgar query about Mr. Hice’s sexual orientation.
“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 claims.
Mr. Hice, who was working at another Hamptons bar at the time of the purported incident, said he had recognized Mr. Lemon earlier in the evening and offered to buy him a drink, but the CNN anchorman declined, saying he was “just trying to have a good time.”
Mr. Hice’s case seeks unspecified damages for “emotional pain and suffering” and loss of earnings. It says the purported attack became known around the area “and led to locals humiliating him at the bar he worked at,” Mediate reported.
A lawsuit represents only one point of view.
CNN dismissed the lawsuit as frivolous, in part because Mr. Hice had criticized the network on social media.
“The plaintiff in this lawsuit has previously displayed a pattern of contempt for CNN on his social media accounts,” a CNN spokesperson said in a statement to Mediaite.
“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,” the spokesperson continued.
Mediaite, while noting that Mr. Hice had deleted his social-media accounts, cited a January 2017 Instagram post “purportedly posted by Hice” that shows him before CNN headquarters. The caption reportedly reads “touring the #CNN center today…or as #Trump would say ‘the home of Fake News’ lol.”
A statement to Mediaite by Mr. Hice’s legal team called such a purported motive “ludicrous” and said he deleted his social media to protect himself from victim-blaming by CNN.
“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,” the statement read.
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