The “Bachelor in Paradise” Scandal Stuns Absolutely No One in the Reality Industry

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On Sunday June 11th, Warner Brothers stated that ABC’s Bachelor in Paradise had been shut down after a producer reportedly filed an “official complaint” about a potential a sexual assault in set. Since then word has trickled out, first in an article from the Daily Mail, and then TMZ et al filling in the outlines of what is obviously a pretty big scandal.

The show, which is produced by Next Entertainment and Mike Fleiss who created The Bachelor, features former The Bachelor and The Bachelorette contestants who are isolated at an exotic resort in hopes of finding love.

Two of those contestants are Corinne Olympios and DeMario Jackson who were allegedly told by producers that they were expected to hook up on the show. On June 4, the first day of filming, Olympios and Jackson decided to do some drinking to get into the mood, and ultimately ended up in the house pool together.

Citing a source on the show, the Mail asserts ….

‘There was hugging and kissing and touching, but before long, she seemed to go limp and was sliding under water. Demario kept trying to hold her up and at the same time he appeared to be having intercourse with her. After he finished – which only lasted a few seconds – he lifted her out of the water and laid her on the cement, where he proceeded to have oral sex with her.

‘She appeared to be unconscious,’ says the source. ‘At that point some of the crew came out and carried her off to her room. She was limp and seemed unable to walk on her own.’

Apparently whatever happened, Olympios was too drunk to remember the next day and only became aware of what might have happened days later. She’s since stated, per People …

“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,” Olympios, 25, said a statement to PEOPLE via her rep on Wednesday.

“As a woman, this is my worst nightmare and it has now become my reality,” continued the reality star…

Meanwhile, Jackson has claimed (cited on TMZ) that the encounter was consensual …

Sources close to DeMario tell TMZ … he’s hell-bent on getting a copy of the footage of himself and Corinne “rubbing, touching and fingering” in the pool. We’re told he already had a lawyer contact Warner Bros requesting the tape.

DeMario believes the video will prove what he’s said all along — Corinne was lucid and he did nothing wrong.

Now it seems that there is a low key push to contain the PR narrative. For instance an “anonymous cast member” from the show told TMZ that Olympios seemed “with it” during the pool interaction, and a Warner Bros. source told The Cut

… the studio disputes the crew member’s claim that Olympios “seemed to go limp.” The source declined to comment on the rest of the crew member’s account.

Whatever happened, this is already way too messy for ABC (and parent company Disney) and chances are the show will get killed. But obviously the bigger question for the many outlets covering the story is the apparent lack of response from crew members to what one producer is calling a sexual assault. In any other context, onlookers to such an act would be considered complicit in a crime. The fact that The Mail’s source further states that Olympios was not provided with medical assistance despite her state of alarming inebriation makes things look even sketchier.

That being said, I anticipate that Olympios will be quickly paid to go away, and Reality will continue on its messed up way.

And although an anonymous producer quoted in Variety presented this situation as an outlier, most us know that it REALLY isn’t. I would wager that this probably isn’t even the first sexual assault on a show. As an anonymous but clearly clued-in Reality insider declared in response to the Variety article ….

Alcohol is ALWAYS provided in abundance in hopes that these cast members overindulge and do some stupid stuff. There are psych evaluations, but EVERYONE knows the networks cherry pick the borderline psychos to be on their shows while maintaining the desired degree of non-culpability.

ALL reality shows are tautly wound exercises in wringing out the worst in people (with booze and coercion) while taking just enough precaution to minimize liability.

The fact is that cast members and crews (for that matter) are routinely put in dangerous situations on a variety of different kinds of reality shows. The issue is that people who work in reality television are subject to precisely zero rules of personal and professional conduct. There are no rules about how far we can push the reality (like the degree to which we can fake or just plain make shit up about people); how crews should be treated (PAs on reality in particular are abused to the point where their lack of sleep actually endangers the crew members and cast they drive around); or how far we can let physical fights to develop between characters before stepping in.  The lines are beyond blurred.

Added to that, we work in a genre that celebrates freakish behavior of all kinds (freaks be good TV) and yet we have no regulations in place to address when the purely freaky becomes, you know, fucking criminal. Obviously people should always contact the cops about criminal behavior, but many won’t. 

When Warner Bros. says that a producer filed an “official complaint” the verbiage suggests that there is an official complaint procedure. In point of fact, there isn’t. Most likely the producer just wrote what they believed they’d seen in an email and copied the universe forcing the shutdown.

If Reality is to survive as an industry and not careen from scandal like this to another, not to mention the vast number that simply never get reported on, it will have to develop industry-wise ethical guidelines. But it won’t.  Because even though Olympios is now threatening to sue, the fact is that cast-members sign contracts that protect the production company and network from pretty much everything. TMZ got their hands on the contract signed by this cast and report …

The contract contestants sign, obtained by TMZ, says in part all contestants waive their right to sue producers over claims of “negligence, personal injury (including without limitation, any injuries arising out of the transmission of a sexually transmitted disease or unwelcome/unlawful contact or other interaction among participants).” The short of it … even if [Olympios] was in a blackout state when she was engaged in sexual activity with DeMario Jackson, the producers would not be responsible. There’s a catch … courts have made it clear in situations involving similar contracts, if the producers were reckless that clause would not be enforceable. And it would seem watching someone incapable of giving consent to sexual activity and allowing it to happen … is reckless.


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