CNN reporter Don Lemon attends "The 35 Most Powerful People In Media" celebrated by The Hollywood Reporter in New York April 8, 2015. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

CNN anchor Don Lemon is sued by a bartender over alleged assault

Don Lemon is fighting a lawsuit claiming that he sexually harassed and assaulted a man at a Hamptons bar last summer.

“The plaintiff in this lawsuit has previously displayed a pattern of contempt for CNN on his social media accounts,” a CNN spokesperson said in a statement to 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.”

According to the lawsuit filed over the weekend, the alleged incident took place at a Sag Harbor, N.Y., bar in July 2018. The plaintiff, Dustin Hice, claims he recognized the CNN Tonight With Don Lemon anchor and offered to buy him a drink called the Lemon Drop. The newsman declined, telling Hice he was “just trying to have a good time.”

The lawsuit claims that later on, Lemon approached Hice and his friends and “put his hand down the front of his own shorts” and “vigorously rubbed his genitalia.” He then removed his hand and put his fingers under Hice’s nose. According to the claim, while doing it, Lemon “repeatedly asked” Hice, “Do you like p***y or d**k?”

Hice, a bartender at another Hamptons establishment, alleged that Lemon acted with “aggression and hostility.” As a result, Hice said he was “shocked and humiliated” and ended up fleeing the bar.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for “emotional pain and suffering.”

Lemon and his soon-to-be husband, Tim Malone, were in Sag Harbor, where the anchor owns a home, over the weekend:

Mediaite reports that a source close to Lemon said that prior to filing the lawsuit, Hice demanded $1.5 million in exchange for killing the lawsuit. The source said Lemon refused because he didn’t think he had done anything wrong.

Hice’s lawyer from New York law firm Nesenoff & Miltenberg slammed CNN’s characterization of his client, telling Mediaite, “The assertion that Mr. Hice would put himself through the painful process of filing a sexual assault lawsuit against his attacker all because he doesn’t like a cable TV station is ludicrous.”

As for CNN’s claims about Hice posting anti-CNN things on his Instagram — he reportedly posted a photo after touring the CNN building in Atlanta and said that he was visiting “as #Trump would say ‘the home of Fake News’” — the attorney said Hice ”took down his social media accounts on the day he filed the lawsuit” because “he’s a private citizen and wants to protect himself from CNN’s heavy-handed tactics.”

It’s been a tough week for CNN anchors. Chris Cuomo was in a verbal altercation with a heckler calling him “Fredo,” referring to The Godfather character, which he said is an insult to Italians and something “punk-a** b****es from the right call” him to rile him up. He spoke out about the incident — which drew the attention of President Trump — on Tuesday, saying that “all the time these days” these types of guys are “baiting me” — “often in front of my family.” However, Cuomo added, “I should be better than what I oppose.”

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