In the wake of news that Bachelor in Paradise contestant Corinne Olympios’ legal counsel will continue to investigate the allegations of on-set sexual misconduct involving the star – despite Warner Bros.’ claims that it found no evidence of wrongdoing – questions remain over exactly what legal implications there may be for the production company.
On Wednesday, CNNMoney reported details of the castmembers’ contracts on the series, including that producers are not liable for “unwelcome/unlawful contact or other interaction among participants.”
Despite the reported contract details, legal experts tell PEOPLE that any alleged instances of sexual assault could overrule contract language should Olympios decide to pursue action against Warner Bros. (Warner Bros. had no comment.)
Attorney Priya Sopori of Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP, says, “While you can waive a number of things on paper, no one is ever going to be able to waive willful conduct.”
(Sopori is not involved with Bachelor in Paradise, Warner Bros. or Olympios in any capacity, and has not seen the series’ contestant contracts.)
“You wouldn’t need a creative plaintiff’s lawyer in this case to devise the scenario where the producers are going to be responsible for protecting their contestants from unlawful activity,” speculates Sopori. “Sexual assault is an unlawful activity.”
PEOPLE sources previously confirmed that Bachelor in Paradise season 4 production was suspended after a producer raised concerns about an alleged sexual encounter between contestants DeMario Jackson and Olympios, both of whom had reportedly been drinking heavily all day.
In a statement obtained by PEOPLE, Jackson said, “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.”
On Tuesday, Warner Bros. announced that it had completed an investigation into the alleged incident with the “assistance of an outside law firm,” and found no evidence that “the safety of any cast member was ever in jeopardy.” Further, the statement said that a recording of the incident “does not support any charge of misconduct by a cast member.”
But Sopori tells PEOPLE that Olympios could have a strong civil lawsuit against the production team if she can prove “a greater likelihood that the network or the producers knew or should have known something like this was going to happen.”
Echoes attorney Yoni Levoritz – founder of the Levoritz Law Group in New York City, and a civil attorney who is also not involved with Bachelor in Paradise, Warner Bros. or Olympios in any capacity, and who has not seen the series’ contestant contracts – “Once a person no longer has the ability to consent because of drugs or alcohol, there is a real issue and someone should pay for not protecting the person they placed in the position of danger.”
“The contracts sound unconscionable,” says Levoritz. “In addition, these are contracts of adhesion – so drafted and dictated rather than negotiated – so there is less of a burden to set them aside.”
He adds, “They basically force people into signing over every single right possible, including the desecration of their bodies.”
So would it be in the best interest for the production company to settle? Levoritz speculates they will.
“The way big companies do these things, is they basically don’t contest the actual charges themselves, basically: ‘We’re not going to say we did something wrong, but we’re going to pay you and then we’re gonna make you sign a confidentiality provision,’ ” he explains.
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Sopori agrees that a settlement is likely, explaining, “In the civil realm, I don’t see a victim wanting to drag herself through this for money or a company wanting to drag its name and its producers through the mud to avoid paying out a certain sum of money.”
As for monetary figures, Sopori speculates damages would be established, in part, by how much Olympios would have made as a contestant.
She says, “So the analogy would be there may be a factor to consider with respect to the kind of money she might have made if she had played out the show successfully.”
Bachelor in Paradise season 4 will premiere later this summer.