Dustin Hice, a New York bartender who accused CNN’s Don Lemon of sexual assault over a 2018 incident, said the network anchor tried to settle the case three times.
“Money is not what I’m after here,” Hice said on “The Megyn Kelly Show” in an interview published Monday. “I just want to not live the rest of my life in regret, and to have a clear conscience, and to have closure from this situation.”
Hice said Lemon made “three separate attempts” with nearly “half a million dollars” to keep him quiet over allegations that the prime time anchor groped his own genitals and proceeded to shove the foul fingers in Hice’s face at a Long Island bar. Hice filed a lawsuit two years ago with a trial expected to begin early next year.
“[Lemon] 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 mustache and under Plaintiff’s nose,” the 2019 lawsuit reads, according to Fox News. “Lemon intensely pushed his fingers against Plaintiff’s face under Plaintiff’s nose, forcing Plaintiff’s head thrust backward as Defendant repeatedly asked Plaintiff ‘Do you like p***y or d**k?’ while saying this, Mr. Lemon continued to shove his fingers into Plaintiff’s face with aggression and hostility.”
In Monday’s interview with former Fox News host Megyn Kelly, Hice said the experience, which happened within his first few weeks at the Long Island establishment, provoked a summer of relentless taunting that eventually led him to leave. Customers would enter to order lemon drops with two fingers raised, referring to a joke Hice had made to Lemon before the CNN host approached Hice later in the evening.
“I was sick and tired of being the ‘Lemon Drop guy,’” Hice said.
“At this point, I just want my life back,” Hice added. “I don’t see any kind of settlement happening without an admission of guilt or an apology, but I seriously doubt with his ego and pride that’s going to happen.”
Lemon called the allegations leveled by Hice in court “frivolous” and denied wrongdoing.
CNN did not immediately respond to The Federalist’s inquiries.
Federalist Culture Editor Emily Jashinsky called CNN’s decision to stand by its anchor “grossly inappropriate” later in Kelly’s program.
“It does show that if you’re Don Lemon, you actually don’t just have Don Lemon and the super expensive powerful attorneys Don Lemon can hire,” Jashinsky told Kelly. “You have all of your friends in the media who you can give a call and say, ‘Listen, this thing’s not true.’ You can try to rush them out of publishing it. And you have your own major corporate entity that is going to go to bat for you because you would cost them money if you went somewhere or if something happened to your brand because it’s their brand.”
The Lemon allegations, Kelly added, underscore a pattern at the network after television producer Shelley Ross recently accused CNN’s Chris Cuomo of sexual harassment while the two worked at ABC News in 2018.
CNN also brought back Jeffrey Toobin this summer after the network’s top legal analyst was caught masturbating during an October Zoom call.