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Sex Assault Case Dogging CNN’s Don Lemon Has Been Dropped

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


A sexual assault case that has been dogging CNN host Don Lemon for months has suddenly gone away after the accuser recanted his accusations.

“After a lot of inner reflection and a deep dive into my memory, I have come to realize that my recollection of the events that occurred on the night in question when I first met CNN anchor Don Lemon were not what I thought they were when I filed this lawsuit,” Dustin Hice, the accuser, noted, according to Deadline. “As a result, I am dropping the case.”

The statement was issued by Hice’s attorney, Robert Barnes.

The outlet adds:

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In his pretty explicit filing of August 11 2019, Hice had originally alleged Lemon displayed a pattern of “aggression and hostility.”

With whispers of a $1.5 million shakedown floating around, CNN came out strong for their colleague.

“The plaintiff in this lawsuit has previously displayed a pattern of contempt for CNN on his social media accounts,” a spokesperson for the then-Jeff Zucker-run cable outlet said at the time.

“This claim follows his unsuccessful threats and demands for an exorbitant amount of money from Don Lemon,” the exec from the now-Warner Bros Discovery-owned outlet noted in 2019. “Don categorically denies these claims and this matter does not merit any further comment at this time.”

Lemon’s attorney, Caroline Polisi added: “In response to Mr. Hice’s baseless allegations, I encourage people to review the public filings, which show that Mr. Hice’s claims have been steadily eroding when they have been exposed to the civil litigation process.

“Mr. Hice’s fanciful and salacious allegations against Mr. Lemon have collapsed of their own weight. Unlike Mr. Hice, Mr. Lemon has litigated and will continue to litigate this case in the courtroom, not the press. We look forward to the approaching trial so he can finally put this case behind him,” she noted further, adding:

This has been a long and difficult journey for Don. Out of respect for the judicial process and my advice, he has had to remain silent in the face of a malicious and vulgar attack on his character. Unfortunately, being a gay Black man in the media, he has had to deal with these sorts of attacks for quite some time.

The Court’s ruling fully vindicates Mr. Lemon and brings an end to this abusive lawsuit. This case was a crass money grab from its inception. Mr. Lemon has never paid the plaintiff a dime over the course of this unfortunate spectacle, and he is looking forward to moving on with his life.

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I hope that many in the media have learned their lesson on misreporting the facts and jumping to conclusions. The reporting on this story from many outlets has been a case study in unethical and uninformed reporting.

Hice’s decision to drop the lawsuit is likely a relief for both Lemon and CNN as well, especially following the demise of the outlet’s streaming offering, CNN+, which folded less than a month after it launched in late March.

Last month, a federal judge ordered Hice to pay the prime time host $77,000 in legal fees.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Locke cited the fact that two key witnesses in the case have switched sides from the plaintiff to the defense.

In February, a report noted that the prime time CNN host would have to stand for a jury trial in the case of a bartender from the Hamptons who accused him of sexual assault, Radar Online reported.

According to court documents obtained by Radar, a federal judge in New York had also ordered the lawsuit filed by Dustin Hice against the CNN anchor will go before a jury.

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