12:22pm PT by Jackie Strause
'Bachelor in Paradise' Star Breaks Silence, Hires Top Lawyer: "I Am a Victim"
After ABC halted production on Bachelor in Paradise to launch an investigation into allegations of misconduct, one of the two castmembers at the center of the incident is going public.
“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," Corinne Olympios said Wednesday in a statement through her publicist Stan Rosenfield.
Added Olympios: "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.”
Olympios has hired top Hollywood attorney Marty Singer to represent her.
News broke Sunday that producer Warner Horizon Television had suspended production on the upcoming fourth season of the Bachelor spinoff, which is currently slated to bow Aug. 8 on ABC. After "allegations of misconduct" on the show's Mexico set, Warners halted filming and opened an internal investigation that remains ongoing.
The incident is said to involve a sexual encounter between two castmembers who had been drinking, Olympios, 25, and DeMario Jackson, 30.
The alleged incident occurred on the first day of filming, and a producer who suspected misconduct later followed protocol by reporting it to her supervisor at the studio. Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter production resumed for a second day with castmembers, including Olympios and Jackson, continuing to go about their show business. It is unclear if the producer witnessed the incident or saw footage of the encounter, which was captured on tape, before filing the complaint.
WBTV then launched an internal investigation, interviewing all 20 castmembers and 25 crew who were on location at the time. The investigation remains internal, with the fate of the current season still in limbo.
Bachelor in Paradise reunites former castoffs of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette in hopes they find love with other stars of the franchise. Olympios hails from Nick Viall's season of The Bachelor, and Jackson was recently eliminated on Rachel Lindsay's season of The Bachelorette, currently airing now.
Charges have not been filed, and this is Olympios' first time speaking publicly. When Jackson was approached in Los Angeles, he said only: "I have nothing to say. You know, Corinne's an awesome girl and that's all I have to say."
Rumors have continued to swirl since the news broke, with Bachelor Nation demanding answers — but few facts have been confirmed. Franchise host Chris Harrison urged patience from fans on Tuesday and warned against "all the rumors and misinformation being put out there" from unverified sources.
"Warner Bros. is handling the details of that investigation," said the host, who was on set when the alleged incident occurred. "They're moving quickly to gather all the facts, and once that's done a clear concise decision can be made about where we go from here."
One such story that has circulated revolves around details of the footage of the alleged incident that suggests Olympios was nearly unconscious during the encounter. Sources tell THR the contestant appears "lucid" in the footage.
After the complaint was filed, Olympios and Jackson were the first contestants to be questioned and dismissed from the Sayulita resort. After questioning the remaining cast and crew one by one, all castmembers were returned their phones (no social media devices are allowed while filming) and flew out of Puerto Vallarta on Sunday, with most arriving home by Monday.
ABC has yet to make an official decision on whether the season will be canceled, as the investigation is still pending. However, due to the nature of the investigation — which is likely to take one to two weeks — it is looking slim that the season could be turned around for its planned Aug. 8 airdate.
Before halting production, several castmembers had left the resort to go on one-on-one dates. Though some footage was captured for the season, the first rose ceremony was not.
The season was set to be filmed during the month of June. A wedding between former castmates Evan Bass and Carly Waddell, who met on the show, is still taking place this weekend at the Paradise location, according to sources. The wedding was set to air during the Bachelor in Paradise season this summer and it is unclear how ABC will handle televising the nuptials.
Beyond the fate of the season, sources say the future of the series as a whole is not yet in jeopardy. The controversy has given rise to several important questions, namely if this will tarnish the ABC franchise as a whole, especially with The Bachelorette airing simultaneously.
"The real question is if the advertisers will stay with the show and how much financial damage has been done," media valuation expert Larry Gerbrandt told THR. "If advertisers stay with the show, then it goes back on the air; but if they turn away in disgust, then you have real problems. The knee-jerk reaction is to pull out [of buying air time on the series] because that's the safest course of action — that's what killed Bill O'Reilly's show; it wasn't ratings, it was advertisers dropping out."
There's also the question of whether or not audiences will want to continue to watch the reality show knowing that something inappropriate and possibly illegal may have occurred during production of its sister series. Both contestants involved recently appeared on The Bachelorette and are therefore fresh in that audience's minds. The Bachelorette, while tamer than Paradise, also features boozy courtships and, at times, sex between contestants.
There is likely to be outrage, especially on social media, if Disney-owned ABC does decide to proceed with the season, even if the investigation determines that no inappropriate behavior occurred. On Tuesday, a petition was launched by Care2 to convince the network to cancel the show.