7:18pm PT by Jackie Strause
'Bachelor in Paradise' Star Corinne Olympios: "I Don't Blame DeMario"
Corinne Olympios offered her side of the Bachelor in Paradise controversy Tuesday night.
The long-awaited sit-down was the ABC reality star's first return to the Bachelor spinoff series since leaving the show after production was temporarily shut down earlier this summer.
"I would love for everyone to have just a better understanding of me and my side and what I think," the admittedly nervous 25-year-old told host Chris Harrison during a pretaped studio interview that aired during the episode's second hour. "I am doing a lot better. It was hard for me. It was really just a time for family.... I'm better."
Harrison asked Olympios to go back to the first day of filming, when she had a sexual encounter with castmate DeMario Jackson. Their hookup, which happened early into filming but after both stars had been drinking, spurred a producer to file the misconduct complaint that sparked the shutdown and an investigation. A second producer later filed a similar complaint.
ABC has not provided details about the producers or what motivated them to file their complaints. The show did, however, air the footage of Olympios and Jackson leading up to the encounter in question during the show's premiere. When talking about why this all happened, Olympios insisted that she didn't understand. Jackson, when speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, had similar still-swirling questions about why the producers complained when neither he nor Olympios took issue with what happened.
"The first day, unfortunately, I don't remember much of," Olympios admitted to Harrison. "I definitely over-drank. I was also on some medication that you're not supposed to drink on, which I didn't know. The combination of the two is just not a good combination. I'm now weaning myself off that medication, knowing more about it, which is something I learned. You always should know more about what you take and your body and things like that."
She said she started taking the medication after her stint on Nick Viall's The Bachelor earlier this year and that she had never experienced this situation before.
"It can look like you're totally present and totally there, and your mind can just be not anywhere near," she said. "It impairs your judgment. It completely unbalances you, it's just crazy."
The day after their encounter, Olympios echoed Jackson's description of their interactions, calling them "normal." When Harrison asked if, in her opinion, she felt that Jackson did anything wrong, she said no. "I wish him the absolute best.... There's no way for you guys to know that she's mentally checked out," she said, referring to herself in the third person. "That Corinne is not here right now. Which is beyond scary, but it is what it is, I guess. I don't think that it's anyone's fault, I think it's just really an unfortunate, annoying situation that had to go down. It just really sucks."
When the investigation was still ongoing, Olympios broke her silence by releasing a statement via her publicist in which she said she had "little memory" of what happened and referred to herself as a victim. “I am a victim and have spent the last week trying to make sense of what happened on June 4," she had said. "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."
She hired a lawyer and launched her own investigation, which she later dropped shortly after producers for Warner Bros. Television concluded their investigation and resumed filming. Neither she nor Jackson returned to the set.
"Before I even had a chance to gather my thoughts and collect myself and talk to him or talk to anybody, he kind of just went for it and was so on the defense," she said of Jackson "running" to the media initially. "I was never mad at you or blaming you for anything."
She added, "The media wants to paint you a certain way that you know you're just not. It's hard that people become experts on you and your life and think they [were there] and know exactly what happened.... I don't blame DeMario. I never pointed fingers at DeMario."
Her message to Jackson now is: "I respect you as a human. I have nothing against you. I'm so sorry you had to go through this. I know exactly what it feels like. I had to go through it, too."
Before Olympios made her debut Tuesday, castmembers Amanda Stanton, Raven Gates, Alexis Waters and this season's bartender, Wells Adams, spoke with Harrison during the special. The cast had thrown their support to Jackson during the season's premiere week, and Jackson, when speaking to THR, specifically called out Gates and Waters for how supportive they had been.
When Harrison asked Stanton and Waters how Olympios has been handling the situation, their answers were short, with Waters offering a "we'll see."
"[Corinne] is definitely being pickier about her friends after all of this," former Paradise star Ashley Iaconetti had told THR about the cast, recalling how many of the women unfollowed Olympios on social media when the story first broke. Castmembers Robby Hayes, Jasmine Goode and Danielle Lombard also spoke to THR about the cast reaction and disagreed with claims that Olympios was victim-blamed on the show.
Last week, Jackson made his long-awaited return during his own sit-down with Harrison. Jackson, who has been more vocal about the controversy, told the Bachelor host that he went through "every man's biggest fear" when accusations of sexual assault were being thrown around in inaccurate reports. "I know I'm not that monster they're trying to portray," he said before breaking down in tears.