The ongoing fight between Carole Baskin and her late husband's family continues. On Wednesday, Sept. 23, Carole Baskin responded to a defamation lawsuit filed by Lewis' daughters Gale, Lynda, and Donna, and his former executive assistant, Anne McQueen. In their filings, the four women accuse Baskin of being "complicit with jokes" about Lewis' death during episodes of Dancing with the Stars and in a September Good Morning America interview, according to court documents obtained by Entertainment Tonight.
"I do not joke about the loss of my late husband Don Lewis," Baskin said in a statement obtained by Bustle. Lewis went missing in 1997 and was declared dead in 2002; Baskin has been accused of being involved in Lewis' disappearance, which she's repeatedly denied. (She has never been formally charged, though, according to Jon Phillips, the attorney for Lewis' daughters, Baskin previously settled a libel and slander lawsuit related to Lewis' disappearance with McQueen in 1998.) His daughters and McQueen are accusing Baskin of not speaking up when the DWTS "judges brought up TikTok videos inspired by her storyline in Tiger King." They also reportedly took issue with her saying that she'd "really kill it next week" on DWTS.
"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," Baskin's statement continued. "I didn't kill him or have him killed, so there's no way I'd associate losing him with that word or concept."
She also claimed, "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," likely a reference to her rival Joe Exotic's conviction for infamously putting a hit on her, which landed him in prison for two counts of murder for hire (Joe Exotic still maintains his innocence). She added that she would never make light of her former husband's death, pointing to her Cameo account, where she claims she refuses to joke about him in videos. "People can't even pay me to joke about the tragic loss of my husband and best friend at the time." Bustle also reached out to DWTS for comment, but not receive an immediate response.
Lewis' family also recently ran an ad (seen above) during the Sept. 14 premiere of DWTS in which they seek "justice for Don," whose body was never found. At one point in the clip, Phillips asks, "Do you know who did this, or if Carole Baskin was involved?" They are offering a $100,000 reward and a tip line for people to call with information. Baskin responded to the ad while speaking with ET last week, saying, "It's just been a huge publicity stunt on their part, so what more could they possibly do than that?"