The man who accused CNN host Don Lemon of a sexually charged assault said the liberal network is "a predator protecting machine" but he’s happy to see accountability with the dismissal of Chris Cuomo. 

It’s been over two years since Dustin Hice filed a lawsuit against Lemon – who is openly gay – accusing the CNN host of sexually charged assault and battery at a bar on New York's Long Island during the summer of 2018. The case is expected to end up in court early next year after a prolonged legal process. Meanwhile, CNN terminated Cuomo – a good friend of Lemon's – on Saturday amid a series of sexual misconduct-related scandals of his own. 


"They’re a network rife with predators and perverts," Hice told Fox News Digital. "Lemon will have to testify under oath in the near future, but it’s good to see that there’s finally some accountability happening."

Dustin Hice and CNN host Don Lemon

Dustin Hice says CNN host Don Lemon assaulted him during the summer of 2018.

Hice maintains he is looking for closure and peace of mind after what he says is a horrific encounter that included Lemon allegedly putting his hand down the front of his shorts, "vigorously" rubbing his genitalia, and shoving the same hand into Hice’s mustache area while asking a vulgar question.

CNN has stood by Lemon, much like the liberal network stood by Cuomo until damning revelations from the New York attorney general's office about his involvement in protecting his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, finally forced CNN to take action. CNN also reportedly learned about a new sexual harassment allegation against Chris Cuomo, unrelated to his brother, before making the decision to terminate the "Cuomo Prime Time" namesake after months of keeping him on air amid multiple scandals. 

"This is who they are. They’re a predator-protecting machine, they slander and smear victims with impunity," Hice added. 

Hice – who says he turned down multiple settlement offers – feels CNN and Lemon are doing whatever it takes to protect one of the network's most prominent anchors.

"They’ve tried to grind me down, they’ve attempted to intimidate witnesses in my case, they’ve released confidential information about me in attempt to doxx me. They are complicit. This is who they are," Hice said.


CNN did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

CNN's Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo

Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo are known to be extremely close and regularly expressed admiration for each other during their nightly, on-air handoff between their two programs. (CNN screenshot )

"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," Lemon’s attorney, Caroline J. Polisi, told Fox News Digital. 

Hice’s lawsuit filed Aug. 11, 2019, in Suffolk County Court alleged Lemon "intensely pushed his fingers against Plaintiff’s face under Plaintiff’s nose, forcing Plaintiff’s head thrust backward as Defendant repeatedly asked Plaintiff, ‘Do you like p---y or d--k?’"

The suit also said Lemon "continued to shove his fingers into Plaintiff’s face with aggression and hostility" throughout the confrontation.

In an answer to the complaint, Lemon denied all wrongdoing and called the suit "frivolous." 

Lemon and Cuomo are known to be close and regularly expressed admiration for each other during their nightly, on-air handoff between their two programs. The playful banter between the two CNN hosts was among the network’s most popular segments on nightly basis.

"The blessing is that we're actually friends. A lot of stuff in the media is phony. A lot of couples that you see on news shows, they are friendly for the purpose of the show, and that's neither good nor bad. It is not the case with us," Cuomo said about Lemon earlier this year. 

Cuomo and Lemon also co-hosted a podcast together before the former was terminated by CNN. 


CNN issued a statement Saturday evening announcing it had terminated Cuomo "effective immediately," coming just days after he was suspended pending a review of the damning revelations from the New York attorney general's office about his involvement in protecting his brother.

"While in the process of that review, additional information has come to light. Despite the termination, we will investigate as appropriate," CNN stated. 

In a memo to staffers, CNN president Jeff Zucker wrote, "Today I let Chris know that we are ending his employment at CNN," adding, "It goes without saying that these decisions are not easy, and there are a lot of complex factors involved. But, as always, it was important to me to be upfront with each of you."

Cuomo released his own statement reacting to his firing.

"This is not how I want my time at CNN to end, but I have already told you why and how I helped my brother," Cuomo wrote. "So let me now say as disappointing as this is, I could not be more proud of the team at Cuomo Prime Time and the work we did as CNN's #1 show in the most competitive time slot. I owe them all and will miss that group of special people who did really important work."


Hice also previously told Fox News Digital the alleged "vile, disgusting, lewd and inhumane" attack by Lemon would be treated much differently if Hice were a woman. 

The alleged incident occurred at Murf’s Backstreet Tavern, in the prestigious Sag Harbor town of the Hamptons area east of New York City in July 2018.

Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this report. 

This article was updated with comment from Lemon's attorney.