Tiger King‘s infamous cat queen Carole Baskin is in the news again today regarding her ex-husband. This time, the family of Don Lewis is suing the reality-star-turned-dancer for a joke made while she was appearing on Dancing With the Stars.
The Facts Behind the Lawsuit
Lewis’ daughters Gale, Lynda, Donna, and former assistant Anne McQueen have sued Baskin for defamation of character. They claim Baskin was “complicit” with jokes made by the judges on DWTS during Baskin’s most recent appearance.
According to TMZ, “In the docs, Don’s former assistant says Carole should have spoken out against the jokes … and she also says Carole should have put her foot down when a ‘DWTS’ judge said she ‘didn’t quite kill the paso double, it was kind of sedated.’ Anne takes umbrage with the use of ‘kill’ and ‘sedated.’
Don’s family is not only accusing Carole of being complicit with the Don quips on ‘DWTS,’ but also going along with the joke in an interview with ‘Good Morning America’ when she promised to ‘really kill it next week’ … according to the suit.”
Baskin Responds in a Statement
CELEB obtained a statement from Baskin about the lawsuit;” I do not joke about the loss of my late husband Don Lewis. It’s a stretch for anyone to say that because I use the common phrase of, ‘killing it,’ that it refers to Don since I believe he crashed an experimental plane over the gulf due to his own failing mental capacity. I didn’t kill him or have him killed, so there’s no way I’d associate losing him with that word or concept.
I was the only person in his life tring to get him to a medical specialist after he’d been diagnosed as bi-polar with Altered Mental States just 2 months before he went missing. According to Don, Anne McQueen and Wendell Williams were telling him that I was trying to have him committed and I believe it was because they were profiting off his diminished capacity. That made it impossible for me to get him the help he needed in time.”
Baskin Has Received Cameo Requests
The statement continues, “Any Tiger King reference to killing or murder is strictly based on the fact that so many animal abusers have tried unsuccessfully to kill me either by rallying their minions or hiring hit men. I’ve turned down scores of Cameo requests from people who wanted me to say something unkind about Don and always send this same text message to the requestor: ‘The tragic loss of my husband is not something I joke about. I would like to help you with your request so could you cancel this one and perhaps request something that does not ask me to make light of a situation that brought so much sadness to me and our families?’
People can’t even pay me to joke about the tragic loss of my husband and best friend at the time. Evidence is at BigCatRescue.org/netflix of his diagnosis.
I’ve dealt with bullies trying to silence me for decades, so I don’t take it personally.
For the cats,
Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue.”
Lewis’ Family Ran an Ad During a Commercial Break on DWTS
Lewis’ family is keeping the pressure on Baskin. During the commercial breaks as Baskin appeared on DWTS, the family of the Tiger King star’s ex-husband ran an ad pleading for help from the public on information about Lewis’ whereabouts. Complex describes the ad, “‘We are a real family,’ Gale, one of Don’s daughters, says in the opening moments of the ad. ‘And to us, he was daddy.’ Anne, Lewis’ former assistant, adds that ‘all we are asking is justice for Don.’ Attorney John M. Phillips echoes that sentiment later on in the clip while specifically mentioning Baskin, Lewis’ second wife.
‘Don Lewis mysteriously disappeared in 1997,’ Phillips tells the camera. ‘His family deserves answers. They deserve justice. Do you know who did this, or if Carole Baskin was involved?’ A $100,000 reward has been funded, with relevant contact info included in the ad’s closing moments.”
Lewis’ Family Is Unlikely to Ease Up Any Time Soon
It’s clear that Lewis’ family believes Baskin not only was involved in his disappearance, but has information that could bring them closure. As they hound her over the years, they hope that the pressure will eventually cause her to give them the answer they are both dreading and hoping to hear. This lawsuit seems unlikely to be decided in their favor; the phrasing Baskin used was generic enough to be easily explained away. And Baskin is not responsible for the jokes made by others. But the lawsuit is a sign that the Lewis family is unlikely to let up any time soon, and Baskin can expect more of the same from them in the future. They are showing Baskin that they plan to stay on her case.