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CNN’s Don Lemon is denying accusations from a former Hamptons bartender who accused the television host of assaulting him at a New York bar last year.
Dustin Hice sued Lemon Sunday for a "demeaning, unprovoked and offensive assault" that allegedly took place at Murf’s Backstreet Tavern in Sag Harbor in July 2018.
A CNN spokesperson told USA TODAY that, "Don categorically denies these claims."
"The plaintiff in this lawsuit has previously displayed a pattern of contempt for CNN on his social media accounts," the statement said Tuesday. "This claim follows his unsuccessful threats and demands for an exorbitant amount of money from Don Lemon."
In the lawsuit, Hice said he encountered Lemon, 53, at the tavern when he went out for drinks with friends following his shift at The Old Stove Pub. Hice said he offered to buy the TV host a vodka drink called a "Lemon Drop" but Lemon declined.
Hice alleges that Lemon approached him later that night, where the assault took place.
"(Lemon) 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 (Hice's) mustache and under (Hice's) nose," reads the lawsuit, obtained by Mediaite.
Hice claims Lemon proceeded to ask questions about his sexual preferences, saying, "Do you like (vagina) or (penis)?" The lawsuit added, "While saying this, Mr. Lemon continued to shove his fingers into (Hice's) face with aggression and hostility."
As a result of the attack, Hice said he suffered "severe emotional stress and loss of future earnings and opportunities." He's suing Lemon for unspecified damages.
Hice added in the suit that the "CNN Tonight" host is not a "staunch advocate for the 'Me Too'" that he saw on television.
"When the cameras are turned off … Mr. Lemon’s actions are in stark and disturbing contrast to the public persona he attempts to convey," the lawsuit reads.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Don Lemon 'categorically denies' assault allegations from ex bartender