Dustin Hice is the Hamptons bartender who says CNN anchor Don Lemon sexually assaulted him. Hice, 38, says Lemon, 53, rubbed his genitals and then put his fingers in Hice’s face.
Hice says that the incident occurred in the summer of 2018 in Sag Harbor, Long Island, where Lemon has a home. The lawsuit was filed on August 11. In it, Hice alleges that Lemon’s actions caused “emotional pain and suffering.” Hice says in the lawsuit that he suffered “feelings of shame, humiliation, anxiety, anger, and guilt” following his interaction with Lemon. Hice alleges that as word spread about the incident, he was mocked in the area by local, something that affected his ability to work. The lawsuit has been filed in New York’s Supreme Court.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. CNN Says Hice Has Displayed ‘Contempt’ for the Network on Social Media
One section of the lawsuit reads, “[Lemon] purports to be a staunch advocate for the ‘Me Too’ movement.” But “when the cameras are turned off … Mr. Lemon’s actions are in stark and disturbing contrast to the public persona he attempts to portray.”
You can read the full complaint here.
In a statement, CNN stood by Lemon saying, “The plaintiff in this lawsuit has previously displayed a pattern of contempt for CNN on his social media accounts. 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.”
2. Hice Says Lemon Asked Him: ‘Do You Like P***y or D***?’
Hice says that in July 2018, he spotted Lemon in Murf’s dive bar in Sag Harbor. Hice works as a bartender at another bar in the area. Hice says that he offered to buy Lemon a drink. Lemon refused, saying he was “just trying to have a good time.” Later, Hice says he was approached by Lemon.
The lawsuit reads, “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 mustache and under Plaintiff’s nose.” From there, Hice says that Lemon asked, “Do you like p***y or d***?” as the CNN host allegedly put his fingers in Lemon’s face. Hice says that he left the bar humiliated. Hice described Lemon as acting “with aggression and hostility.”
3. Hice’s Lawyer Says: ‘If You Are in a Position of Power, You Cannot Get Away With Sexual Assault’
In an interview with the New York Post, Hice said that he had been working nearby on the night of the alleged incident. After work, Hice said that he went to Murf’s bar with friends for drinks.
Hice told the Post, “I had had two beers, maybe three at the most,” prior to meeting Lemon. Hice said in the interview, “I absolutely wasn’t hitting on him whatsoever. I’m a heterosexual male.”
With regard to being humiliated, Hice told the Post, “I had to go into work the next day, and by then, people all across town knew it. It spread like wildfire. And I had people coming in that week and ordering Lemon Drops and being like, ‘Give me two,’ ” infuriating and humiliating him.”
Andrew Miltenberg, Hice’s attorney, told the Post, “This lawsuit is sending a message loud and clear — if you are in a position of power, you cannot get away with sexual assault. No matter what the circumstances are.”
4. One Report Says Hice Posted a Photo Outside of CNN’s HQ in 2017 & Called the Network ‘Fake News’
As news of Hice’s lawsuit spread, he deleted his Twitter account. According to Mediaite, an Instagram post from January 2017 showed Hice outside of CNN’s headquarters in Atlanta. The caption read, “touring the #CNN center today…or as #Trump would say ‘the home of Fake News’ lol.”
In a statement to Mediaite, Hice’s attorney said the plaintiff “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.” Hice said of his alleged attacks on CNN in his interview with the Post, “I have never ever ranted about anyone, especially a news station. … I am a private, religious man.”
The Mediaite report adds that a source told them that Hice “demanded” $1.5 million from Lemon in exchange for not filing suit. That allegation was also reported independently by The Wrap. Hice told the Post that his camp had been in contact with Lemon’s people with regard to a financial settlement. Hice said that Lemon offered six figures and deal could not be made, which brought about the lawsuit.
5. Prior to Deleting His Twitter Page, Hice Had Been Retweeting Christian Motivational Messages
A cached version of Hice’s Twitter page gives his location as being Delray Beach, Florida. The last three messages on Hice’s page are Christian motivational messages. The last, from Joel Osteen, reads, “It may not be easy, but your destiny is calling. You have greatness in you. Don’t let people talk you out of it; don’t let circumstances convince you that you can’t.”