Don Lemon's accuser, Dustin Hice, has been ordered to pay the CNN anchor $77,000 in legal fees as their court battle continues.
A federal judge made the ruling on Wednesday, Radar can confirm, less than two years after Hice filed a lawsuit in August 2019 alleging that the CNN star sexually assaulted him at a Hampton's bar.
The latest development in the case comes after Lemon asked the judge to sanction Hice, demanding a total of $106,490.38. Lemon claimed information discovered during discovery highlighted the extent to which Hice went to conceal witnesses and evidence.
Hice previously urged the court to “award instead a reasonable amount of attorneys’ fees comprised of documented time expended to draft and present the underlying spoliation motion.”
U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Locke now cites more evidence that some of Hice’s claims could be invalid, mentioning two witnesses that Hice listed will now testify for the defense.
According to Hice, the alleged incident took place at Murf’s Backstreet Tavern in Sag Harbor in July 2018. Upon spotting the journalist that day, Hice was with friends and apparently offered Lemon a drink, which the anchor denied. Later that evening, Hice claimed he was approached by Lemon, who allegedly rubbed his genitals, and put his fingers on Hice's mustache while asking, "Do you like pu—- or d–-?" These claims have all been denied by Lemon.
"Don categorically denies these claims," a spokesperson for Lemon said on his behalf in 2019. "The plaintiff in this lawsuit has previously displayed a pattern of contempt for CNN on his social media accounts," the statement continued. "This claim follows his unsuccessful threats and demands for an exorbitant amount of money from Don Lemon."
On the other hand, Hice has long stood by his claims. “Lemon will have to testify under oath in the near future, but it's good to see that there's finally some accountability happening,” he previously told Fox News Digital.
Recently, a judge ordered the case will go to a jury trial despite Lemon’s objections and concerns that public scrutiny may sway the verdict, but he can use Hice's actions as evidence against him.
The case is headed to jury trial later this year.