Paula Deen Admits Using the N-Word: "Yes, of Course," but "It's Been a Very Long Time"

"I can't, myself, determine what offends another person," the Food Network star said in a deposition for the harassment lawsuit filed against her by a former restaurant employee

By Natalie Finn Jun 19, 2013 9:46 PMTags
Paula DeenJohn M. Heller/Getty Images

The food at Paula's Party? Great. The conversation? Maybe not so much...

Paula Deen admitted to past use of the N-word and to telling what could be perceived as racist jokes, her admission coming last month in a video deposition as part of a $1.2 million lawsuit filed against her by a former employee.

"Yes, of course," the 66-year-old Food Network star reportedly said in the May 17 deposition, filed Monday in federal court, when asked if she had used that word. But, she added, "It's been a very long time...Probably in telling my husband" about being held up by a black gunman when she worked as bank teller in the 1980s.

"But that's just not a word that we use as time has gone on," Deen continued. "Things have changed since the '60s in the South. And my children and my brother object to that word being used in any cruel or mean behavior. As well as I do."

As for telling offensive jokes, she reportedly said, "It's just what they are— they're jokes...most jokes are about Jewish people, rednecks, black folks...Gays or straights, black, redneck, you know, I just don't know—I just don't know what to say. I can't, myself, determine what offends another person."

Lisa Jackson, who used to manage a Georgia restaurant run by Deen and her brother Bubba Hierssued them last year, claiming Deen used the N-word around her and that she was sexually harassed by Hiers.

Deen also admitted to asking black employees to dress up as slaves for an apparently antebellum-themed wedding, saying she got the idea from a restaurant she went to where the waiters were all "middle-aged black men, and they had on beautiful black jackets with a black bow tie...I would say they were slaves."

In response to news of the proverbial N-bomb, a rep for Deen told E! News Wednesday: "Contrary to media reports. Ms. Deen does not condone or find the use of racial epithets acceptable. She is looking forward to her day in court."