CNN’s Don Lemon will be facing a jury trial in a lawsuit from a Long Island bartender who claims Lemon physically and verbally assaulted him in 2018.
The ruling had been opposed by Lemon’s lawyers, who wanted a bench trial with no jury present.
“Lemon will have to testify under oath in the near future, but it’s good to see that there’s finally some accountability happening,” Lemon’s accuser Dustin Hice said after the ruling, according to Fox News.
A report in People said Hice first sought $1.5 million from Lemon.
The lawsuit claims that after some back-and-forth between the two men at a bar — not the one where Hice worked — Lemon attacked him in a sexual manner, People has reported.
Lemon has denied the charges, while CNN has said the entire lawsuit is driven by antipathy to the network, which Hice told Fox News was “a network rife with predators and perverts.”
“The plaintiff in this lawsuit has previously displayed a pattern of contempt for CNN on his social media accounts,” CNN said in a statement. “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.”
Andrew Miltenberg, an attorney who formerly represented Hice, said that claim was absurd.
“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. It’s shameful that the CNN attack machine is resorting to victim-blaming in order to detract from Mr. Lemon’s gross sexual misconduct,” he said.
Hice, however, has not minced words about his disdain for CNN, calling the network “a predator-protecting machine, they slander and smear victims with impunity.”
“They’ve tried to grind me down, they’ve attempted to intimidate witnesses in my case, they’ve released confidential information about me in [an] attempt to doxx me. They are complicit. This is who they are,” Hice said.
In a November interview with Megyn Kelly, Hice was asked if he thought Lemon had acted in such a manner before as Hice is accusing him of acting.
“Anybody that acts like that in public without any fear of what it might do to somebody or the consequences it might have, that’s a pattern,” Hice said, according to the New York Post.
“I wouldn’t be surprised,” Hice said. “He’s protected by the fact that he’s African American, gay man on television and I’m just some nobody.”
Hice told Fox News that Lemon’s camp offered at one time to settle for $500,000, while attorney Caroline Polisi said Lemon offered “to settle Mr. Hice’s claims for a nuisance value of $8,000.”
Lemon is among the current and former CNN personalities who have made the news over alleged misdeeds.
Former CNN host Leon Harris has been accused of trying to leave the scene of a weekend accident in which police say he was drunk at the time, according to the Daily Mail.
Last week, CNN President Jeff Zucker resigned, citing a long-term relationship with a top CNN employee as the reason for quitting. The relationship was exposed amid battles with former anchor Chris Cuomo over what the network owes Cuomo.
Cuomo was fired by the network amid allegations of sexual harassment while the network was dealing with the fallout from Chris Cuomo wading knee-deep into the political swamp in an attempt to salvage the political career of his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Gov. Cuomo was ultimately forced to resign amid multiple allegations of sexual harassment.
Former CNN producer John Griffin is currently facing sex crimes allegations as well as civil lawsuits amid allegations that he sought underage children for sexual activity.