The attorney for the man who accused fellow CNN host Don Lemon of a sexually charged assault expects the case to finally end up in court early next year after a prolonged legal process.
It’s been over two years since Dustin Hice filed an explosive lawsuit against Lemon – who is openly gay – accusing the “CNN Tonight” host of assault and battery at a bar on New York’s Long Island during the summer of 2018.
Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo engage in a nightly handoff where they briefly overlap to discuss current events with playful banter.
“[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,” according to the lawsuit, filed Aug. 11, 2019 in Suffolk County Court.
“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,” the suit alleged.
In an answer to the complaint, Lemon denied all wrongdoing and called the suit “frivolous.”
A lengthy discovery process and the coronavirus pandemic have kept the case out of court, but Hice’s legal team told Fox News Digital the suit was ongoing and may wind up in court around January 2022.
Lemon’s CNN program has followed Cuomo’s, and the two frequently engage in a nightly handoff during which they discuss current events with playful banter. Last week, veteran television producer Shelley Ross accused Cuomo of sexually harassing her when they worked together at ABC News in 2005. The “Cuomo Prime Time” namesake issued a statement in which he reiterated his apology for the incident 16 years ago.
While Ross didn’t take legal action and said she simply wanted Cuomo to learn a lesson, Hice has been seeking “damages in an amount to be determined at trial, plus prejudgment interest, attorneys’ fees, expenses, costs, and disbursements.”
Dustin Hice says CNN host Don Lemon assaulted him during the summer of 2018.
Last year, Hice told Fox News the alleged “vile, disgusting, lewd and inhumane” attack by Lemon would be treated much differently if Hice were a woman.
“I’m not doing this for notoriety or fame, I’m doing this because I’m standing up for myself and what I believe in,” Hice told Fox News. “I’ve grown a new respect for people dealing with mental health issues because stress, depression, anxiety, those are all very serious things. It consumed my life.”
The alleged incident occurred at Murf’s Backstreet Tavern, in the prestigious Sag Harbor town of the Hamptons area east of New York City in July 2018.
CNN and Lemon’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The allegations against Lemon and Cuomo are hardly CNN’s only issue with its high-profile talent being accused of inappropriate behavior. CNN also allowed legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin to return to the network after he was caught masturbating on a Zoom call with coworkers from his other gig at the New Yorker. The magazine fired Toobin but CNN welcomed him back after an extended leave of absence.
Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this report.