The fourth season of Bachelor in Paradise is officially resuming production after an investigation into possible “misconduct” that allegedly took place during filming of the Bachelor spinoff in Mexico. This news, which comes at the end of an investigation by production studio Warner Bros. that concluded on June 20, is a development that few people expected in what has been both a confusing and utterly concerning story of serious allegations of sexual misconduct.
While the investigation was underway, calls for the show to be canceled grew louder as competing and often contradictory details and rumors about what had happened on set emerged from the contestants in question, Bachelor in Paradise alums, and anonymous crew members alike.
As such, the future of Bachelor in Paradise has been uncertain since June 10, when Warner Bros. first suspended production of season four and released a statement saying that it was “conducting a thorough investigation” into "allegations of misconduct" and would “take appropriate responsive action” once that investigation was concluded.
Those allegations reportedly involved alcohol and a sexual encounter that was captured on film, but according to Warner Bros. in a statement obtained by Variety, the video does not support the charges made against a cast member.
Warner Bros. said:
As we previously stated, we recently became aware of allegations regarding an incident on the set of Bachelor in Paradise in Mexico. We take all such allegations seriously. The safety, security and well-being of the cast and crew is our number one concern, and we suspended filming so that the allegations could be investigated immediately and thoroughly. ... Out of respect for the privacy interests of those involved, we do not intend to release the videotape of the incident. We can say, however, that the tape does not support any charge of misconduct by a cast member. Nor does the tape show, contrary to many press reports, that the safety of any cast member was ever in jeopardy.
In response, an attorney for the female contestant in question has rejected the Warner Bros. statement, insisting that “it needs to be made crystal-clear that production of Bachelor in Paradise was shut down because of multiple complaints received from BIP producers and crew members on the set, and that their “own investigation will continue based on multiple new witnesses coming forward revealing what they saw and heard.”
Shutting down filming is a drastic action for any TV show to take. And in this case, production was stopped less than a week after ABC, which airs Bachelor in Paradise and the rest of the Bachelor franchise, first announced the season’s cast — so the interest in what could’ve caused the stoppage has been especially high. Here’s how the investigation and its ripple effects unfolded.
The investigation reportedly concerned a sexual encounter between two contestants where consent may have been in question
Bachelor in Paradise is meant to be the looser cousin of The Bachelor, ditching the pretense of a storybook romance in favor of a spring break vibe. The series throws together a group of former Bachelor and Bachelorette contestants in a tropical location in the name of giving them “a second chance at love” (but more likely, drama and salacious hookups).
The show’s fourth season was filming in Mexico when the alleged incident took place. Though Warner Bros.’ official statement about stopping production didn’t include specifics, reporters and online sleuths immediately began piecing together the details.
On June 11, the LA Times’s Amy Kaufman reported on Twitter, via an unnamed Bachelor source, that the incident being investigated stemmed from two contestants getting “extremely drunk” on the first day of filming and then going to the pool, “where they got naked,” at which point their encounter “turned into ‘soft core porn.’” According to Kaufman’s source, a producer who witnessed the interaction not only didn’t show up to work the next day but sued the Bachelor in Paradise production itself for misconduct.
Meanwhile, Bachelor expert Reality Steve (nickname his) reported that season four “has been cancelled. They’re done. Everyone’s being sent home.”
This seemed to be confirmed when Reality Steve tweeted a picture that a Bachelor in Paradise fan took with some cast members at the Puerto Vallarta airport, signaling that the cast had been released from the Bachelor in Paradise set.
Here's most of the cast at the airport an hour ago. Being told they're being flown to Houston. Still don't know what's going on pic.twitter.com/eNgGp0tyZ1— RealitySteve (@RealitySteve) June 11, 2017
While at first the identity of the contestants in question wasn’t revealed, People reported on the morning of June 12 that DeMario Jackson was the subject of the investigation, with sources saying that the female contestant was alleging that she had been too drunk to consent to a sexual encounter that took place between them — and that other contestants said as much to crew members, who allegedly took no action.
Later that afternoon, People published an interview with an anonymous contestant who said the cast knew “something bad had happened” when they were placed on “lockdown mode,” which in reality TV speak means that “the contestants aren't allowed to speak to each other and are constantly monitored by production.”
According to TMZ, which interviewed unnamed sources connected to Jackson, producers told Jackson they had seen the footage and were “uncomfortable” with what had happened. Soon thereafter, TMZ reported again through sources connected to the female contestant — whose name was initially withheld by some news outlets but later identified as Corrine Olympios — that she remembers nothing and, again, that the crew didn’t listen to contestants who alerted them to her state.
On June 14, Olympios released a statement to BuzzFeed through her publicist:
I am a victim and have spent the last week trying to make sense of what happened on June 4. Although I have little memory of that night, something bad obviously took place, which I understand is why production on the show has now been suspended and a producer on the show has filed a complaint against the production. As a woman, this is my worst nightmare and it has now become my reality. As I pursue the details and facts surrounding that night and the immediate days after, I have retained a group of professionals to ensure that what happened on June 4 comes to light and I can continue my life, including hiring an attorney to obtain justice and seeking therapy to begin dealing with the physical and emotional trauma stemming from that evening.
Hours later, Jackson released his own statement through a publicist to E! News:
It's unfortunate that my character and family name has been assassinated this past week with false claims and malicious allegations. I will be taking swift and appropriate legal action until my name is cleared and, per the advice of legal counsel, will be seeking all available remedies entitled to me under the laws.
The Hollywood Reporter then reported on June 16 that neither Olympios nor Jackson were aware “that anything questionable had happened until they were approached by members of production and the cast the following day,” and were therefore working with their lawyers to request access to the video footage of the incident. Warner Bros.’s statement on June 20, however, suggests that no one but those directly involved in the investigation have seen the footage in question.
Here’s Warner Bros. full statement on ending its investigation and resuming production of Bachelor in Paradise season 4
After suspending production and conducting an investigation into the allegations, Warner Bros. released a statement to announce that no video supported the claims and that Bachelor in Paradise would resume production:
As we previously stated, we recently became aware of allegations regarding an incident on the set of Bachelor in Paradise in Mexico. We take all such allegations seriously. The safety, security and well-being of the cast and crew is our number one concern, and we suspended filming so that the allegations could be investigated immediately and thoroughly. Our internal investigation, conducted with the assistance of an outside law firm, has now been completed. Out of respect for the privacy interests of those involved, we do not intend to release the videotape of the incident. We can say, however, that the tape does not support any charge of misconduct by a cast member. Nor does the tape show, contrary to many press reports, that the safety of any cast member was ever in jeopardy. Production on this season of Bachelor in Paradise will be resuming, and we plan to implement certain changes to the show’s policies and procedures to enhance and further ensure the safety and security of all participants.
As of Tuesday afternoon, details were still scarce in terms of whether Bachelor in Paradise’s season 4 cast will remain the same and whether Jackson and Olympios will return to the show, with no specifics available regarding the “certain changes” that Warner Bros. will be making. Bachelor in Paradise was originally scheduled to premiere on August 8; there is no word yet on whether or not that date will shift now that production is set to resume after the delay.
The investigation may be over, but the situation remains murky
Having completed its investigation, Warner Bros. is clearly ready to move past the incident and get back to business. But its statement on its findings, paired with an apparent “full steam ahead” attitude toward restarting production of season four, almost raises more questions than it answers.
Why would a producer make a move to shut down a production — an enormous decision that inevitably costs jobs and money — unless there was a reason to do so?
Unless Olympios gave consent while sober, what kind of conclusive proof could the video contain as to whether or not she was too drunk to give consent during a sexual encounter that no one is denying took place?
Why did so many of the on-set reports contradict each other?
And how, exactly, will the final cut of Bachelor in Paradise season four aim to handle this incident (or ignore it) within the context of what is otherwise a candy-coated dating show?
The only thing we currently know for sure is that, while Warner Bros. might have concluded its investigation, this is likely only the beginning of the questions Bachelor in Paradise will face going forward.