Last week, a bartender in New York filed a lawsuit against CNN host Don Lemon, accusing the newsman of a gross, sexually charged assault, and now his former boss has fully corroborated the story.
In an exclusive interview with Fox News, George Gounelas detailed what allegedly occurred on the night of the shocking encounter between Dustin Hice and Lemon at Murf’s Backstreet Tavern, which is located east of NYC in the Hamptons. Gounelas said the bar was full of people who also witnessed the bizarre incident and that it was common knowledge in the Hamptons. In fact, it was so well known, according to Gounelas, area bartenders routinely offered Hice “Lemon drop shots” to tease him about the alleged assault.
NEW: Man says he witnessed CNN host Don Lemon's alleged assault of Dustin Hice – 'I was kind of making fun, I feel bad now' pic.twitter.com/fJIZJZI80u
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Gounelas, who managed Hice at the now shuttered Old Stove Pub in July of 2018, said the two had gone to Murf’s after work and spotted the CNN host.
“Dustin worked for me as a bartender [and] we went out after work one night. We were standing there and he said, ‘Hey, that’s Don Lemon,’” Gounelas said. “Murf’s is a place you go to drink after you’ve been out drinking. We had just gotten off of work. So that’s why we ended up there, because we worked in the restaurant business. So by the time everything is done, we can only hit a late-night spot.”
In his lawsuit, Hice claimed that he offered to buy Lemon a drink but Lemon refused, saying he was “just trying to have a good time.”
According to the lawsuit, Hice was later approached by Lemon.
Mr. Lemon, who was wearing a pair of shorts, sandals, and a t-shirt, 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 in Plaintiff’s mustache and under Plaintiff’s nose.
Hice claimed that Lemon asked, “Do you like p***y or d***?” as the CNN host put his fingers under his nose and described Lemon as acting “with aggression and hostility.” He said that he left the bar feeling humiliated.
Lemon vehemently denies Hice’s allegations.
“The plaintiff in this lawsuit has previously displayed a pattern of contempt for CNN on his social media accounts,” a CNN spokesperson said in a statement. “This claim follows his unsuccessful threats and demands for an exorbitant amount of money from Don Lemon. Don categorically denies these claims and this matter does not merit any further comment at this time.”
But Gounelas corroborated every part of the disgusting story and said that it was common knowledge among the Hampton nightlife crowd.
He said the encounter began when Hice offered to buy Lemon a drink, and the CNN host declined.
“Don Lemon has now come around the corner and is standing face to face with us. There is a beam, a pole, in the place. Don’s standing up against the pole, face to face with Dustin, I turn around and I’m standing right there between the two of them,” Gounelas said. “He’s saying, ‘So you like me? Is that why you’re bothering me?’”
Hice responded, “Nah, man, I just wanted to say, ‘What’s up?’” according to Gounelas.
Gounelas told Fox News he couldn’t exactly recall what Lemon said next, but it was “along the lines of, ‘Do you like me? Is that why you’re bothering me, because you wanna f*** me?’”
He also said Lemon appeared to be “pretty drunk” throughout the confrontation.
“He put his hands down his pants, inside his board shorts, grabbed his [genitals], and then came out with two fingers and, like, clipped Dustin’s nose up and down with two fingers asking ‘do you like p—- or d—?’” Gounelas said.
Gounelas said he laughed at the time and teased Hice because of Lemon’s alleged actions – but Hice was not amused.
“Dustin was in this shock mode saying, ‘Bro, did that just happen? That was disgusting,’” Gounelas said, adding: “The whole thing is like, I go out in the Hamptons, I live out here, I have a restaurant, I get it, people get crazy. To me, it was just another thing. To [Dustin], he was like shocked.”
Gounelas told Fox News that he isn’t sure if the openly gay Lemon was being belligerent or simply flirting.
“I guess it’s a little of both. If someone had done that to me, I probably would have punched him. But I think it might have been flirting. I think Dustin was more in shock… If someone was flirting with me like that I’d say, ‘alright man I’m not gay,’” Gounelas said. “I wouldn’t go up to a girl like that. It could be his way of flirting.”
He added: “The place was packed. I’m sure other people saw. It was a known thing in the Hamptons, not like this quiet thing. Everybody knew Dustin and what happened to him. Every time we went out, every bartender offered him a Lemon drop shot, making fun of him. He got some sh-t for it.”
According to Gounelas, Hice was regularly teased about the incident at work for the rest of the summer, and the situation left him “a little messed up.”
“This is the only thing he could talk about, not in a good way, like ‘I can’t believe that sh-t happened,’” Gounelas explained.