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How Much of the Bachelor in Paradise Scandal Had to Do with Race?

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As speculation continues about what exactly happened between Bachelor in Paradise stars Corinne Olympios and DeMario Jackson that forced a suspension and investigation of the production, several members of Bachelor Nation are coming forward with growing concerns that one important factor in the sex scandal is being ignored.

Up until last week, Jackson, for the most part, was still a relatively unknown name to Bachelor Nation. Since then, he’s found himself at the center of an explosive controversy after Warner Bros. announced that it had officially halted production of Paradise due to an investigation into allegations of misconduct.

PEOPLE sources previously confirmed season 4 production was suspended after a producer raised concerns about an alleged sexual encounter between Jackson and fellow contestant Olympios, both of whom had reportedly been drinking heavily all day.

Olympios and Jackson have since both retained legal representation and issued statements, with Olympios, 24, calling herself a “victim” and Jackson, 30, claiming his character “has been assassinated.”

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Now, a source tells PEOPLE that Jackson has been unfairly targeted amidst the controversy.

“There’s an elephant in the room — that this is a black man and a white woman,” says the source. “The story isn’t these two people snuck away off site and something happened between them that we don’t know about. It’s all there.”

William Gaskins, who competed alongside Jackson on Rachel Lindsay‘s season 13 of The Bachelorette, came to his former cast mate’s defense and also believes that race is playing a role in the scandal.

A lot of conversation has gone back and forth and accusations have flown regarding consent and the ability to give it, primarily from one direction. However one thing which has been largely absent from these headlines is the fact that by all accounts of those present both parties were willing participants in whatever it is that happened that day. And in fact there were multiple other people with whom one party engaged in some type of physical contact with that day but it wasn’t until The black man got into the mix that this was deemed as no longer acceptable,” Gaskins wrote on Instagram.

Gaskins continued, “We can lie to ourselves and say that race isn’t a factor here and pretend that it doesn’t affect our day to day lives but it’s just that, a lie. It has hurt me these past few weeks seeing someone who I consider a friend get dragged left and right. None of you got to know or see Demario the way that those of us in the house did; if you had you would know that he is one of the most straight forward and caring ppl you could ever care to know.” 

So I have largely tried to stay out of the drama; both during my time in the house as well as after my time on the show came to a close but this issue has been one that I have been following closely. I'm glad that from abc's perspective this matter is closed and that is certainly a step In the right direction. But that is not the end of this story. A lot of conversation has gone back and forth and accusations have flown regarding consent and the ability to give it, primarily from one direction. However one thing which has been largely absent from these headlines is the fact that by all accounts of those present both parties were willing participants in whatever it is that happened that day. And in fact there were multiple other people with whom one party engaged in some type of physical contact with that day but it wasn't until The black man got into the mix that this was deemed as no longer acceptable. We can lie to ourselves and say that race isn't a factor here and pretend that it doesn't affect our day to day lives but it's just that, a lie. It has hurt me these past few weeks seeing someone who I consider a friend get dragged left and right. None of you got to know or see Demario the way that those of us in the house did; if you had you would know that he is one of the most straight forward and caring ppl you could ever care to know. Those first few days he went out of his way to get to know everyone, take time to make sure that some of the guys who may have been having a hard time dealing with the stresses of the day to day of being on the show felt comfortable and at ease. Nobody got a chance to see that side of D, yes he's loud, yes he's a little obnoxious, and yea he should have clearly broken things off with that other woman before pursuing Rachel. but to those who know him he's also the guy you can call when you are in need and he will be there for you to listen, give advice or just make you laugh and crack a smile. I hope that in the coming days, hours and months that he will continue to be vindicated of any wrongdoing and his name will no longer be associated with such a despicable act. Rant over…..for now #freedemario

A post shared by William Gaskins (@thereal_billyg) on

On Tuesday, Warner Bros. released its first statement regarding the investigation, announcing that it was complete and concluding that there was no evidence of misconduct.

As we previously stated, we recently became aware of allegations regarding an incident on the set of Bachelor in Paradise in Mexico. We take all such allegations seriously. The safety, security and well-being of the cast and crew is our number one concern, and we suspended filming so that the allegations could be investigated immediately and thoroughly. Our internal investigation, conducted with the assistance of an outside law firm, has now been completed. Out of respect for the privacy interests of those involved, we do not intend to release the videotape of the incident,” the statement reads.

“We can say, however, that the tape does not support any charge of misconduct by a cast member. Nor does the tape show, contrary to many press reports, that the safety of any cast member was ever in jeopardy.  Production on this season of Bachelor in Paradise will be resuming, and we plan to implement certain changes to the show’s policies and procedures to enhance and further ensure the safety and security of all participants,” the statement concludes.

A legal source for Olympios, meanwhile, tells PEOPLE that “it was obvious something went significantly wrong here.”

“It’s very rare to shut down a production,” says the source. “People have been killed on movie and TV sets, and yet they continue to film. In this case, it’s been completely shut down.”

RELATED VIDEO: Bachelor Alums on What Really Goes On During Filming — ‘Alcohol Was Always Available but Never Forced On Us’

Now that Warner Bros. has completed its investigation, the first source is hopeful that Jackson will eventually be able to clear his name.

“He’s going to be okay, ultimately, when the facts come out, but no one handled this the right way,” says the source. “You have to take every accusation seriously, but you don’t have to ruin this young man’s career, his family name. This isn’t someone of questionable character.”

“So it’s a very sensitive topic,” adds the source. “Hopefully he can recover from this. … I think the treatment that he’s received has been unreal, and it was unreal on set.”