9:24am PT by Evan Real
ABC's 'Proposal' Episode Pulled After Woman Accuses Contestant of Facilitating Her Sexual Assault
ABC is pulling the second episode of its new dating reality competition series The Proposal, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed. The network's decision not to air the episode comes after show contestant Michael J. Friday was accused of facilitating a woman's sexual assault last year.
In a public Facebook post published Thursday, a Milwaukee woman named Erica Denae Meshke claimed that Friday "was directly responsible for my date rape" in early November. Later, Meshke shared a screenshot of Friday's Instagram account in the comments section of her post, revealing the identity of the man she was referring to.
In a joint-statement to THR, ABC and Warner Horizon explained their decision not to air the episode featuring Friday, who was eliminated from the show during its first round.
"An allegation has been made against a contestant on next week’s episode of The Proposal. While the accusation was not related to the contestant’s appearance on the program, we take it very seriously," the statement read. "ABC and the producers of The Proposal are pulling the episode while this matter is under review."
In her Facebook post, Meshke detailed the night of her alleged sexual assault and revealed why she decided to come forward with her story.
"After keeping this buried for nearly eight months, and seeing this man continue to succeed and not be held accountable for his actions, I’ve had enough," she wrote. "I’ve lost sleep, relationships, self esteem, trust and countless other things because of that night. And I’m done keeping it quiet."
Meshke went on to say that she and Friday met via Tinder and said they eventually made plans to meet in person. After she requested to meet in a "public place," Friday allegedly suggested the "lobby/entertainment room" located at an apartment complex. It was there that Meshke claimed she was met by Friday and his two older "friends," men who she believes were in their 50s.
"They poured me a drink, and then I was left alone with the two older men," Meshke continued. "The original guy never came back, despite me calling and texting. I was told by his friends that he would be back soon. So while I waited, I accepted another drink, which I know now was spiked."
Meshke then alleged that one of the men took her into an apartment in the building where she said, without going into detail, that what she "endured for the next 5 hours [was] unspeakable."
After the alleged incident took place, Meshke said that she was "threatened" by the unnamed man who she was told "was very 'powerful' and would 'find me' if I told anyone what he did."
Regardless of the threat, Meshke said she confronted Friday when they later crossed paths again at a bar. "I ran into this person once since at a bar and confronted him, after he attempted to buy me a drink," Meshke wrote. "Once I reminded him of who I was, he acknowledged his part in that evening, and tried to argue with me and justify what he did, but was promptly asked to leave the bar by employees/my friends."
She added, "This man is the pretty face that is used as a lure to get girls into unsafe situations."
The Proposal comes from the masterminds behind ABC's long-running Bachelor franchise, including creator Mike Fleiss. The show, hosted by Bachelor alum Jesse Palmer, features eligible daters competing in four pageant-style rounds to win the heart of a mystery suitor or suitress in hopes that they say yes to their proposal.
ABC's cancellation of the show's second-ever episode comes after it was revealed that Bachelorette contestant Lincoln Adim — who is currently vying for Becca Kufrin's heart on the series — was convicted of indecent assault and battery for groping a woman on a cruise ship in 2016. Though Adim's guilty verdict came on May 21, just days before season 14 of The Bachelorette premiered, the show's producer Warner Bros. TV denied knowledge of the conviction.
Adim's conviction is the second controversy to hit this cycle of The Bachelorette. Garrett Yrigoyen, a frontrunner who received Kufrin's first impression rose, came under fire last month for offensive social media behavior, igniting criticism over the show's vetting process during casting.
Former Bachelor contestant Ashley Spivey shared screenshots showing that Yrigoyen liked Instagram posts mocking undocumented immigrants; the trans community; liberal feminists; and posts that spread misinformation about Parkland, Florida, shooting survivor David Hogg.
Yrigoyen later apologized in a statement. "I am not perfect, and I will never be anywhere close," he said, "but now I will always be more informed and aware of what I am liking and supporting, not just on Instagram, but in life."
Fleiss later took to Twitter to vow to do better when it comes to vetting contestants on the ABC shows. After first asking "How are we supposed to find out about something that’s never been reported???", the creator said in a follow-up tweet: "For the record, I am horrified that any of these abusive assholes are on our shows. We are working very hard to find ways to do better."
The Proposal airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.
June 25, 7 a.m. Updated with Mike Fleiss tweets.