Ben Higgins Weighs in on Bachelor in Paradise Controversy and Says He 'Was Never Forced into Anything' on Set
Two sources confirmed to PEOPLE on Monday that filming on the fourth season of Bachelor in Paradise had been suspended after a producer raised concerns about an alleged sexual encounter between contestant DeMario Jackson, 30, and a female cast mate.
“I was never forced into anything. I was talked through as a friend in situations. If I was confused, they would sit with me and allow me to speak my mind and help me process,” Higgins said of his experiences on The Bachelorette and The Bachelor. “Yes, there is producing that is done. It’s a show! There are situations that happen that they need to get something out of, but it’s never a forced situation.”
The reality star — who recently split with his Bachelorette final pick Lauren Bushnell — insisted no storylines are created by the producers before a season is filmed. “The storyline makes itself up each and every day during the process of filming The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise,” he said.
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Acknowledging mistakes can be made because “these people are humans” and aren’t “going to be perfect at their job,” Higgins added that viewers “have to understand that they were just trying to portray a storyline that was existing in front [of them].”
Iaconetti also defended the show, saying she never saw “anything happen that should’ve been stopped that I thought was morally wrong” during her time on The Bachelor and Bachelor in Paradise.
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“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,” said Harrison. “An investigation into the situation was started immediately. 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.”
After the cast was spotted at the airport on Sunday flying out of Puerto Vallarta near the show’s filming location, a source told PEOPLE BiP will not be resuming this summer. “It’s just an internal investigation. There are no authorities involved, no law enforcement but the incident was flagged internally and they take these matters seriously,” added the source.
Fan-favorites like Corinne Olympios from Nick Viall‘s season, Amanda Stanton from Higgins’ season and Robby Hayes from JoJo Fletcher‘s season were set to return to the show — which first premiered in 2014 — this summer.
In situations of alleged sexual misconduct, PEOPLE declines to name the alleged victim without their consent.