Don Lemon has found an ally in CNN after he was hit with a lawsuit accusing him of an assault of a man at a Hamptons bar last summer.
Former Hamptons bartender, Dustin Hice, filed the suit in New York over the weekend, Mediaite reports. The incident reportedly happened in July 2018 which Hice called a “demeaning, unprovoked and offensive assault.” Hice claimed Lemon approached him and offered him “The Lemon Drop” cocktail. Hice refused but was later approached by Lemon who “put his hand down the front of his shorts, and vigorously rubbed his genitalia, removed his hand and shoved his index and middle in [Hice’s] mustache and under [Hice’s] nose.”
In the wake of the lawsuit, Deadline reports that CNN told the outlet that “Don categorically denies these claims and this matter does not merit any further comment at this time.”
A statement that was given Tuesday (Aug. 13) states “The plaintiff in this lawsuit has previously displayed a pattern of contempt for CNN on his social media accounts,” it follows with the claim following “his unsuccessful threats and demands for an exorbitant amount of money from Don Lemon.”
A source close to Lemon’s team told Mediaite Hice demanded $1.5 million in exchange before filming the lawsuit. When Lemon refused, Hice went forward with his claims. The source said Lemon refused to take part in the extortion because he didn’t think he had done anything wrong.
The official lawsuit documents state that Hice has continued to “suffer emotionally, mentally, and personally” from the incident as well as “future earnings and opportunities.”
Lemon himself is a survivor of sexual assault. “There is no standard way survivors talk about sexual assault, it isn’t always a police phone call and a rape kit or a report filed with HR, sometimes they don’t talk at all or years, even decades,” he said last year while speaking about the assault that happened when he was a child.
Correction: 4:25 p.m. ET (Oct. 15, 2021) – An earlier version of this article misstated that the “Lemon Drop” cocktail is named after the famed anchor. The drink Lemon allegedly offered was not made after him.