Don Lemon Sexual Assault Accuser Drops Lawsuit Entirely, Says He Misremembered Events

CNN’s Don Lemon can rest a little easier after a lawsuit alleging he assaulted a Hamptons bartender was dropped on Monday.

The plaintiff retracted his entire story.

via Mediaite:

Dustin Hice filed the lawsuit back in 2019, claiming he had encountered the CNN host at a bar and Lemon had “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 moustache under Plaintiff’s nose.”

Hice received a flood of publicity from the lawsuit, appearing on Fox News programs and Megyn Kelly’s popular podcast, but his case rapidly fell apart after the discovery phase began and Lemon’s attorneys began investigating the case and questioning witnesses. As Mediaite reported in March, when Hice’s two key witnesses were examined under oath by Lemon’s counsel Caroline Polisi, they directly contradicted Hice’s story. One of Hice’s coworkers even retracted his prior testimony.

Hice ended up removing these witnesses from his witness list, and Polisi updated the defense’s witness list to add those exact same witnesses. Needless to say, it’s rare in civil litigation for any witness cited in the original pleadings to switch sides; for two to do so is especially unusual.

A judge also found that Hice had repeatedly failed to comply with orders to turn over evidence, and “did nothing to preserve relevant evidence here and in fact got rid of some of it, whether on purpose or not,” describing the plaintiff’s behavior as looking “like a pattern, and that pattern is a problem.” Polisi’s motion for sanctions against Hice filed last fall resulted in Hice being sanctioned and ordered to compensate Lemon for $77,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs.

If the case had gone to trial, an order from that same judge would have resulted in the jury hearing an instruction to make an “adverse inference” to Hice’s detriment related to his destruction of evidence. That, plus his witnesses now being brought into court to testify for the defense, would have made it virtually impossible to convince a jury to believe him.

Clearly, the case had fallen apart. Monday’s filing made that official, with a Stipulation of Voluntary Dismissal With Prejudice submitted by both parties’ attorneys to the court, legally ending the lawsuit and barring Hice from any future attempts to amend or re-file the complaint against Lemon.

Puck News’ Dylan Byers reported that Hice had issued a statement claiming he had misremembered his interaction with Lemon.

“After a lot of inner reflection and a deep dive into my memory,” said Hice in the statement, “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.”

In a statement responding to the dismissal of the case, Polisi excoriated not only Hice but the media coverage of the “abusive lawsuit.” She described how she had advised Lemon to “remain silent in the face of a malicious and vulgar attack on his character,” calling the case a “crass money grab from its inception.”

Lemon was “looking forward to moving on with his life,” added Polisi, now that he had been “fully vindicated” in court.

“I hope that many in the media have learned their lesson on misreporting the facts and jumping to conclusions,” Polisi concluded. “The reporting on this story by many outlets has been a case-study in unethical and uninformed reporting.”

This is great news for Don, especially coming just a few days after CNN+ shuttered and he lost his gig.

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