On Sunday, news broke that production on the fourth season of Bachelor in Paradise had come to a halt, just a week after the Bachelor/ette spin-off had started filming. Rumors swirled on the set, and contestants were sent home from the Mexico shooting location so producers could investigate “allegations of misconduct,” according to Warner Bros.
Sources told PEOPLE and Entertainment Weekly that a producer raised concerns about an alleged sexual encounter between contestant DeMario Jackson, 30, and a female contestant who may have been too drunk to consent. (Corinne Olympios, 25, later confirmed she was the woman.)
As the news broke about the suspension of production, speculation raged about what the incident might be, who it involved and what it could mean for the future of The Bachelor franchise, particularly the Bachelor in Paradise spin-off. Below, we break down everything we know so far.
What’s Bachelor in Paradise?
ABC first premiered the spin-off Bachelor in Paradise in 2014, and every summer since, they have sent former Bachelor/ette contestants to a beachside house in Mexico for a second chance at love. The initial cast begins with an uneven number of male and female cast members, and at the end of the week, a rose ceremony determines who will stay and who will go. To keep the intrigue going, the show brings in new contestants each week. The show was similar to previous Bachelor summer offering, Bachelor Pad. The first crop of this year’s contestants was announced on June 6.
Trouble in Paradise
On Sunday, Warner Bros. released a statement announcing that production on the show had halted: “We have become aware of allegations of misconduct on the set of Bachelor in Paradise in Mexico. We have suspended production and we are conducting a thorough investigation of these allegations. Once the investigation is complete, we will take appropriate responsive action.”
News also broke that the current contestants were being sent home from the Puerto Vallarta shooting location, and a contestant shared an Instagram post showing the contestants at the airport.
In the ensuing days, PEOPLE and EW confirmed that production was suspended after a producer raised concerns about an alleged sexual encounter between Jackson and Olympios, both of whom had reportedly been drinking heavily all day. “The show absolutely values the primacy of consent, and this instance, it appears as though conduct allegedly occurred without the proper consent having been given,” a source within the show told PEOPLE.
Contestants Weigh In
In the wake of the scandal, former and current contestants have spoken out about the incident and their experiences of Bachelor in Paradise more broadly.
One current Bachelor in Paradise cast member spoke to PEOPLE Monday on the condition of anonymity, describing the sequence of events on the ground, from crying producers to the cast being put on lockdown — a reality TV tactic that involves separating and monitoring cast members 24/7. “We knew something bad had happened; there was a dark energy that came around the house. You have to understand that we weren’t even there a week. The game hadn’t even really begun yet,” the contestant said.
The contestant expressed a general sense of anger on the part of many cast mates. “We all feel used,” the contestant continued. “We’re pissed off. People had planned their lives around this. Contestants quit their jobs for this. We all had to step away from our real lives for three weeks.”
Season 3 Bachelor in Paradise contestant Ryan Beckett spoke to PEOPLE exclusively about his experiences on the show, noting the “college”-like atmosphere and saying that drunken hook-ups were a run-of-the-mill occurrence because of the free-flowing alcohol on set. “People drink like they were in college or on a cruise. They go out and they drink more because they don’t have to drive, they’re on vacation. I think people indulge a lot more than they normally would,” said Beckett. “We’d just go up to the bar and order a margarita or whatever. So it was always available, but it definitely was never forced on us.”
Beckett said that while producers encourage contestants to exhibit more confidence and pursue romance, he never witnessed them specifically encouraging any sexual interactions. “At the end of the day, it’s always the cast that has to decide if they want to drink or hook up,” he said. He also noted that producers would intervene if any behavior seemed to push the boundaries of consent, saying, “In my experience, the producers definitely step in. I felt like they definitely had it under control.”
Wells Adams, a contestant from JoJo Fletcher’s season of The Bachelorette and cast member on season 3 of Bachelor in Paradise, shared his thoughts on Instagram, writing, “Some of the greatest moments of my life happened in Paradise. Some of the greatest people I’ve gotten to spend time with (in front of and behind the camera) happened in Paradise. One of the most beautiful and genuine love stories unfolded in front of my eyes in paradise. My heart breaks for those that don’t share the same experiences.” E! News reported on Tuesday that Adams was poised to become the new bartender on this season of BiP.
Chris Harrison Addresses the Scandal
“By now, no doubt, you have heard that we have suspended production on this season’s Bachelor in Paradise. I can confirm to you that this is sadly the case. Out of respect to all involved, there’s only so much I can and will say at this time. Normally with a situation like this I would not say anything until the incident is fully resolved, but with all the rumors and misinformation being put out there, I don’t find that to be possible anymore,” his statement reads.
“Let me start by saying the safety and care of the cast and crew of our show is of the utmost importance to us. It is with this thought in mind that we made the decision to suspend filming. An investigation into the situation was started immediately,” he wrote. “Warner Bros. is handling the details of that investigation. 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.”
“There are a lot of competing details in the various press accounts of the incident. And there’s a lot of misinformation out there too. We urge everyone to be patient until the investigation is complete,” he wrote.
The statement concludes: “I know in this day and age we want — and even expect — immediate answers, but in this case, it’s just not possible. So again, I urge you to please be patient and respect the privacy of the parties involved. I will keep you as informed and up to date as I possibly can. We’re sorry for any inconvenience and disappointment this may have caused the cast, the crew and our loyal fans. It is my sincere hope that we can come to a quick resolution on this and get back to work very soon.”
Corinne Olympios Breaks Her Silence
On Wednesday, Corinne Olympios released a statement to PEOPLE: “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.”
“As a woman, this is my worst nightmare and it has now become my reality,” she continued. “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.”
PEOPLE confirmed that Olympios has secured veteran Hollywood attorney Martin Singer; DeMario Jackson has also sought legal representation and hired Walter Mosley.
DeMario Jackson Speaks Out
On Wednesday evening, several hours after Olympios released her statement, Jackson responded with his own:
“It’s unfortunate that my character and family name has been assassinated this past week with false claims and malicious allegations,” he said in an exclusive statement to E! News. “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.”
(Jackson was previously dismissed from the current season of The Bachelorette when it was revealed that he was potentially still with a former girlfriend while competing on the show. In his confessional car ride departure, he blamed his exit on his character being “assassinated.”)
Is This the End of the Show?
As Warner Bros. continues its investigation, speculation rages about whether Bachelor in Paradise will have a life beyond this scandal.
According to sources on the production team, the bad press surrounding the incident could damage the show’s main funding body, the Mexico Tourism Board. “They pick up the tab for practically everything in exchange for all the free publicity the show gives them — but this is not a good look and is not likely to be something Mexico Tourism wants to welcome back,” a source told PEOPLE. The source added that this incident, combined with last season’s dismissal of notoriously aggressive contestant Chad Johnson, may “[throw] into question if perhaps the show simply needs to be over.”
However, on Sunday, EW reported that the show was not in jeopardy for now. Despite the cast being sent home following the suspension of production, ABC Entertainment Group President Channing Dungey told EW exclusively, “Warner Horizon produces the show, so we have to wait for them to conclude their investigation before any next steps.”
There is no word yet on whether Jackson’s and Olympios’ decisions to seek legal counsel will alter the role of law enforcement in the investigation.