A new lawsuit filed Sunday claims Don Lemon assaulted a man at a bar last year who had previously offered to buy the CNN host a drink.
The plaintiff, Dustin Hice, claims he arrived Murf’s Backstreet Tavern, a bar in Sag Harbor, New York, with some friends in July 2018.
“When Plaintiff entered Murf’s, he noticed a familiar face and realized that Mr. Lemon was also at the bar, seemingly enjoying a drink with his friends,” the suit claims. “Being cordial, Plaintiff tried to get Mr. Lemon’s attention and offered to buy Mr. Lemon a drink, a ‘Lemon Drop’, a vodka cocktail.”
Lemon declined, the suits says, allegedly saying he was “just trying to have a good time.”
The night went on with nothing notable happening until “sometime later that evening,” according to the lawsuit, when “Mr. Lemon walked towards Plaintiff and his colleagues inside of Murf’s.”
“At such time, 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 into Plaintiff’s moustache under Plaintiff’s nose,” court documents state.
“Mr. Lemon intensely pushed his fingers against Plaintiff’s face under Plaintiff’s nose, forcing Plaintiff’s head to thrust backward as Defendant repeatedly asked Plaintiff “Do you like p—y or d—?”. While saying this, Mr. Lemon continued to shove his fingers into Plaintiff’s face with aggression and hostility.”
Hice claims he left the bar, and that when he returned, Lemon was gone.
Hice, who worked as a bartender at a different establishment, says plenty of people heard about what allegedly happened.
“Since the incident occurred in a public bar, it later became apparent that many of the patrons who frequented Murf’s witnessed and talked about what Mr. Lemon had done and joked about it,” the suit claims.
“After the incident, customers who came into The Old Stove or saw Plaintiff out about town cheekily ordered lemon drops and laughed at Plaintiff’s expense.”
“Plaintiff has suffered tremendously as a result of Mr. Lemon’s actions. Following this incident, Plaintiff found himself withdrawn from friends and family, suffered feelings of shame, humiliation, anxiety, anger, and guilt. Plaintiff found himself unable to sleep and at times, and suffered from suicidal ideations,” the suit says.
But CNN is pushing back on the allegations.
“The plaintiff in this lawsuit has previously displayed a pattern of contempt for CNN on his social media accounts,” a CNN spokesperson told 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.”
A source close to Lemon told the New York Post that prior to filing suit, Hice demanded $1.5 million from Lemon, who refused, reportedly claiming he’d done nothing wrong.
But according to Hice, Lemon is a different person when he’s not on the air.
“When the cameras are turned off,” the suit says. “Mr. Lemon’s actions are in stark and disturbing contrast to the public persona he attempts to convey.”
UPDATE, Aug. 13, 2019:Paragraph 1 of the lawsuit filed against Don Lemon states:
On air and through social media platforms, Don Lemon (hereinafter “Mr. Lemon” or “Defendant”), an American journalist, and Emmy Award winning news anchor for Cable News Network (CNN), who among other things, purports to be an staunch advocate for the “Me Too” movement, a social movement meant to bring awareness and give a voice to victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment. When the cameras are turned off, however, Mr. Lemon’s actions are in stark and disturbing contrast to the public persona he attempts to convey. Such was the case in July of 2018, when Mr. Lemon, unprovoked, physically and verbally attacked Plaintiff in a public bar displaying his true nature.
The suit draws a “stark and disturbing contrast” between his efforts on behalf of victims of “sexual assault and sexual harassment” and Lemon’s alleged behavior — not between victims of “assault” and his alleged behavior. It’s clear that the plaintiff and his attorneys consider Lemon’s actions to be sexual in nature.
However, because the suit does not mention “sexual assault” specifically, we have edited the commentary to remove the one use of that phrase that originally appeared so as to not cause any confusion regarding the actual violation claimed.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.