11:57am PT by Jackie Strause, Ashley Cullins
'Bachelor in Paradise' Legal Battle Focuses on Access to Video of Incident
As the investigation into what happened on the set of Bachelor in Paradise continues, the two castmembers at the center of the probe are hoping to get their hands on a key piece of the puzzle.
Corinne Olympios and DeMario Jackson, who have each sought legal counsel, have yet to see the video footage that is said to have captured the alleged sexual incident on June 4, according to sources. Both contestants are now said to be seeking access to the footage, which remains in the hands of production company Warner Bros. Television.
“Corinne hasn’t seen the tapes,” Olympios' publicist Stan Rosenfield tells The Hollywood Reporter. “We just want to find out what happened and get to the bottom of it.”
Olympios’ attorney Marty Singer is said to have sent a letter earlier this week to Warner Bros. demanding that the studio hand over footage. It’s unclear if Warner Bros.’ attorney Zazi Pope, who is handling the matter for the studio, has responded. Those who have seen the tape include select producers who were on location at the Sayulita, Mexico, set and those at Warner Bros. conducting the investigation. Sources say executives at ABC, which airs Bachelor in Paradise, have not seen the tapes.
Olympios, 25, has retained top Hollywood litigator Singer to represent her, but it's not clear if Jackson, 30, has officially hired an attorney. He said in a statement he "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.” Jackson, an executive recruiter in L.A., also said he had lost his job and hopes that the footage will show he did nothing wrong. "I feel like the truth will be able to come out in those videos,” he said.
Warner Bros. executives hope to conclude the investigation within a week, according to sources.
News broke Sunday that Warner Bros. had suspended production on the upcoming fourth season of the Bachelor spinoff, which is still slated to bow Aug. 8 on ABC, after a producer suspected misconduct and filed a complaint during filming the previous week. The alleged incident is said to be a sexual encounter between Olympios and Jackson, who had both been drinking heavily. Warner Bros. halted filming and quickly launched an investigation, which included interviewing all 20 of the cast, along with about 25 of the crew, before sending them back to the U.S. on Sunday.
A source tells THR 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. In her statement, Olympios said she had "little memory of that night" and that "something bad obviously took place." The contestant hired top Hollywood publicist Rosenfield to represent her and, in a statement, said, in part, "I am a victim."
Olympios appears "lucid" and "conversational" on the footage, a source says, but since alcohol was involved the issue of consent has been raised. At this point, both parties want access to the tape, sources add.
While most investigations into reports of sexual misconduct don't involve people whose lives are filmed 24/7, how large a role the tape will play depends on what was caught happening while cameras were rolling. It is possible that the video could help determine whether or not affirmative consent was given — which is required under California law. It could also make more clear exactly how much alcohol the contestants had consumed, which would factor into whether either or both of them were sober enough to consent.
Though Warner Bros. and Disney-owned ABC are protected by thorough contracts and top-notch corporate lawyers, both Olympios and Jackson could have cases if they are able to prove that the producers acted recklessly. Still, it's unlikely that it would get that far, and entertainment lawyers who have spoken to THR suggest that a settlement — potentially for both parties — is the most likely outcome.
Now, more than a week since the investigation began, Warner Bros. is likely to have reached a preliminary conclusion. "They don't care about the money it costs or the time it takes, they want to get to the truth of what happened," says a source. The fate of the season and Bachelor in Paradise series as a whole will be up to ABC, which is likely assessing the risk and reward of keeping the show on the air. The forces at play are the potential amount of revenue to be lost if the show is nixed and if that outweighs the unforeseen damage that could be done to the overall brand.
With the current season of The Bachelorette now airing — a new episode airs Monday — there is little distance between the two sister shows, who each have crossover contestants and a crossover audience. Olympios has so far made two appearances on Bachelorette, once on the premiere and another on the June 5 episode, and Jackson was a contestant until his May 29 elimination. Rachel Lindsay, who is leading the historic season as the first black Bachelorette, kicked Jackson off the show when a woman from his past claimed on-air that they had an unfinished relationship (he returned on the June 5 episode to ask for a second chance and was denied). Lindsay had invited pal Olympios, along with several other members of the suspended Paradise cast, onto the show for guidance.
Lindsay has yet to address the topic and it is unlikely that she will anytime soon, sources say. Production on the season has wrapped, though two upcoming live specials, the annual Men Tell All reunion show and finale After the Final Rose special, could serve as the platform to do so.
As for whether the tape will eventually come out publicly, the chances are slim. Because of the reportedly sexual nature of what was filmed, it's not in anyone's best interest for anyone other than the parties themselves and those conducting the investigation to view it.
Franchise host Chris Harrison, who did not see the incident in question, according to a source, had previously asked fans of the series to be "patient" until the investigation is concluded. Creator Mike Fleiss has been relatively quiet, taking only to Twitter to suggest "More to come," and express his love to the Bachelor Nation audience.