Following weeks of renewed rape allegations against comedian Bill Cosby, CNN host Don Lemon wanted Joan Tarshis, who has accused Cosby of sexual assault, to know she could have escaped the alleged 1969 attack, if she had used her teeth as a weapon during oral sex.
Lemon, insisting he was not trying to be “crude,” suggested this tactic while interviewing Tarshis on CNN Tonight:
Lemon: You know, there are way not to perform oral sex if you didn’t want to do it.
Tarshis: Oh, I was kind of stoned at the time, and quite honestly, that didn’t even enter my mind. Now I wish it would have.
Lemon: Right. Meaning the using of the teeth, right?
Tarshis: Yes, that’s what I’m thinking you’re….
Lemon: As a weapon.
Tarshis: I didn’t even think of it.
Lemon: Yes. I had to ask. I mean, it is, yeah.
The awkward exchange followed an interview Tarshis gave to Lemon the day before, in which she claimed she had lied to Cosby about having an STD in order to convince him not to rape her. She alleged that Cosby then forced her perform oral sex on him. In the first interview, Lemon asked, “Why didn’t you tell police?”
Update, Wednesday, November 19: Following the backlash incited by Lemon’s comments, the CNN host issued the following statement Wednesday afternoon: “As a victim myself I would never want to suggest that any victim could have prevented a rape. If my question struck anyone as insensitive, I’m sorry as that was not my intention.” In the past, Lemon has discussed being sexually abused as a child.