CNN host Don Lemon is facing a lawsuit in New York State Civil Supreme Court, accusing him of harassing a Florida man at Murf’s Tavern in Sag Harbor on July 15, 2018. The Florida man, Dustin Hice, did not press charges at the time, according to the police. If Hice had wanted to press charges, he would not have had to go far: Murf’s Tavern is next door to police headquarters on Division Street.
The civil complaint claims that Lemon offered to buy Hice a drink, then, later in the evening, approached Hice, put his hand on his own crotch, then rested it against Hice’s face, asking, in obscene language, about his sexual preferences.
Lemon and CNN have denied the allegations.
Lemon has denied the civil charge. Hice claims that he was working at The Old Stove Pub in Sagaponack the night in question, when the owner, George Gounelas, offered to take Hice out, along with some their employees and customers, to “celebrate” the summer season.
Hice and Gounelas, along with a woman identified as “Jane Roe,” a pseudonym, ended up at Murf’s. Jane Roe is the same pseudonym used by Norma McCorvey, in one of the most historic cases in American jurisprudence history, Roe v Wade. The complaint promises her identity is to be revealed during the discovery phase of any trial, if there is a trial.
The incident took place during a time when Murf’s was considered by the police as the one bar in Sag Harbor that generated the most complaints, according to Sag Harbor Police Chief Austin McGuire. It has since changed hands and is under new management and ownership. Complaints about Murf’s have dropped since then.
Chief McGuire detailed the problems police were responding to in the first half of 2018 related to Murf’s during a hearing before the State Liquor Authority regarding the closing time for Murf’s in March of this year. He said there were numerous complaints of “public urination, defecation, public sex acts, and drug use.” There also were several fights reported, according to the Sag Harbor police logs.
The day the news about the suit came out, Lemon, who has a residence in Sag Harbor, was speaking at Guild Hall in an event scheduled long before the suit became public.