A court dropped assault charges against CNN anchor Don Lemon after the plaintiff admitted he “misremembered” the incident on Monday.
Dustin Hice, the plaintiff, sued Lemon in August 2019 for “emotional pain and suffering” after the CNN anchor allegedly attacking him at the Long Island, New York bar, Murf’s Backstreet Tavern, in 2018 and rubbed his genitalia and shoved his fingers into Hice’s face. The plaintiff asked Lemon for $1.5 million to stop the suit, but the CNN anchor denied the accusations and declined to pay the money.
A Stipulation of Voluntary Dismissal with Prejudice was filed by attorneys from both parties to officially end the suit and prohibit Hice from attempts of re-filing the complaint against Lemon, Mediaite reported.
Puck News’ Dylan Byers said Hice released a statement saying he did not correctly recall his encounter with Lemon.
“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,” Hice said, according to Byers.
HICE statement: “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.”
— Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) May 2, 2022
Lemon’s lawyer, Caroline Polisi, criticized the media’s reporting on this suit “unethical and uninformed” in a Monday statement after the charges dropped. (RELATED: ‘Disgusting Behavior’: Witness Comes Forward In Don Lemon Assault Case)
“Thankfully, Mr. Hice was finally able to access his memory and recollect the correct version of events on the night when he approached Don Lemon,” Polisi said. “This has been a long and difficult journey for Don. Our 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. I hope that many in the media have learned their lesson on misreporting the facts and jumping to conclusions,” she continued. “The reporting on this story by many outlets has been a case-study in unethical and uninformed reporting.”
In March, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Locke ruled for Hice to pay $77,000 in attorney fees to Lemon after his accusations were recently called into question, the Advocate reported. A key witness, Isabel Peters, denied Hice’s account of the alleged incident saying Hice and his friend, George Gounelas, were very drunk and heckled Lemon that night.
She further testified the plaintiff did not appear troubled in any form and that she never witnessed the alleged incident happen, despite his testimony of feeling humiliated and traumatized exiting the bar, the outlet reported. She also testified that the two men followed Lemon as he left the bar and followed him into another establishment where the news anchor used the restroom.
In text messages to a friend, Peters said Lemon did not even touch Hice in response to him filing suit against the late night anchor, according to the Advocate.
The judge said Hice violated court rules by destroying text, photo and social media evidence, and Polisi filed a motion for sanctions arguing that Hice admitted to “bad faith and witness tampering” and “selectively destroyed countless text messages, social media posts and messages, and incriminating photographs,” the Advocate reported. She also presented evidence that the plaintiff paid Gounelas to testify in his favor.