After the Bachelor in Paradise season 4 premiere aired Monday, DeMario Jackson is opening up about how the aftermath of the sex scandal affected him and is sharing his thoughts on how he thinks ABC handled the situation.
The contestant, who engaged in a sexual encounter with fellow contestant Corinne Olympios while filming the fourth season of BiP, told Entertainment Tonight that he’s “been through hell” since Warner Bros. subsequently suspended production and conducted an internal investigation, which was later cleared after they deemed nothing improper had occurred. Jackson now feels he’s finally been “vindicated” after Monday night’s episode aired.
“I feel like they rolled enough of the tape,” Jackson told ET. “You can’t show too much, because that’s gonna disrespect Corinne and I, and I just feel like it wouldn’t be the best or the classiest thing to do. But, they showed enough. ”
He added: “The public, they need to see something. I think they just needed to see [that] she’s lucid. I’m lucid. We’re swimming around. We’re having fun. We’re friends. It wasn’t like I’m some predator who was at the bar waiting for the girl to get extremely drunk, then I’m like, ‘Oops! Let me pounce on her.’ No, it was very mutual and, in fact, she was a little bit of the aggressor in it, and I love how they painted the picture and the story of us actually talking, mingling, getting to know each other.”
Though Jackson feels a sense of relief, he’s not too thrilled with how ABC played it out.
During the premiere, both Jackson and Olympios were shown flirting, and later jumping in the pool with their clothes on. However, the episode came to an abrupt end when producers interrupted the evening, pulling Olympios and Jackson aside.
“I do wish [they explained more],” Jackson said. “Like, that very moment of us getting into the pool and everything, that’s when we had kinda got, you know, a little more cozier, so to speak. Everything happened and then we were just finished.”
Olympios and Jackson both subsequently retained legal counsel and released statements in the days following the production shut down by Warner Bros. to investigate the “misconduct” and all of the contestants were sent home.
“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 said in a statement to PEOPLE via her rep.
Jackson said in his own statement: “It’s unfortunate that my character and family name has been assassinated this past week with false claims and malicious allegations. I 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.”
Since the scandal, Jackson has felt the aftermath in a personal, emotional and traumatic way.
“I signed up for this reality,” Jackson explained. “I feel guilty, because my mom didn’t sign up for this, and she’s been getting harassed, people tweeting at her, on her Instagram saying, ‘Your son’s a rapist.’ “
“That was the part I was most sad about,” he added. “I feel like I created this for my family, in a sense, by being a little reckless. … And I just want to say I’m sorry to them.”
And although his family was dealing with the stresses of the situation, Jackson was dealing with them on a whole other level to the point where he admitted to being, “suicidal, but not like the suicidal that you might think.”
“I never thought, ‘Oh, I’m gonna kill myself,’ but it crossed my mind,” Jackson said and revealed that he went to therapy and lost over 20 pounds due to stress. “I remember just talking to my mom, like, ‘My life’s over. Like, I don’t even want to live anymore.’ And she, like, lost it.”
Though the controversial contestant didn’t end up going back to Paradise, he admitted that there’s no ill will towards the show — or Olympios, whom he said he was “here for her.”
“Just stay strong,” Jackson advised. “Don’t let the people who weren’t there alter your judgment. Don’t let the people who weren’t there get the best of you,” said Jackson. “Corinne’s a lot like me, she’s extremely misunderstood. She has a personality that lights up a room, a smile that lights the room. She’s a smart girl, and when I say smart, I mean she knows how to play this reality wheel thing.”
Bachelor in Paradise airs Mondays and Tuesdays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.