Chris Harrison on BiP Sex Scandal: There Was No Victim-Shaming Because Corinne Olympios Was Never a Victim
"I think people have to be very careful in using the word 'victim' because there was not a victim," the longtime ABC host exclusively tells PEOPLE
On Tuesday, the second night of the season 4 BiP premiere aired and Harrison addressed the sexual encounter between DeMario Jackson and Corinne Olympios that shut down production just days into filming in June. Warner Bros. suspended production on the show and launched an internal investigation into “allegations of misconduct,” which were later cleared after they deemed nothing improper had occurred.
After news of the scandal broke, Olympios released a statement, in which she referred to herself as a “victim.”
“I think people have to be very careful in using the word ‘victim’ because there was not a victim,” the longtime ABC host exclusively tells PEOPLE. “There was not an assault. There was not a crime. There was not anything other than what turned out to be just an unfortunate event that they got caught up in.”
During Tuesday’s episode, Harrison and the BiP cast openly discussed the situation — and unanimously came to Jackson’s defense.
“The reason I think there was so much empathy for DeMario was [because] the media and a lot of people quickly jumped to accusations and there were a lot of fabricated stories and bizarre lies about him,” Harrison adds.
“I think they were quick to defend DeMario because they knew Corinne wasn’t a victim. They knew she wasn’t hurt and injured in any of this. The person that was really being attacked was more of DeMario. I guess, maybe it came off as victim blaming, but that’s probably why they felt a little sensitive for DeMario,” Harrison continues. “I think they felt that he was being unjustly accused of something. I think they felt that they needed to come to his defense more than they needed to come to Corinne’s defense. It’s not like they blamed Corinne or shamed her. I guess it could’ve been misconstrued in that way. But when I was sitting there in person, that’s how I took it. I didn’t take it as they were bashing Corinne at all. And they defended her.”
In the upcoming BiP episodes, Harrison will sit down with Olympios and Jackson individually to discuss the ordeal.
“I think it will enlighten people to kind of how confusing and how frustrating this was for both of them,” he says of the interviews.
“It kind of happened around them and to them more than them being a part of it. It’s just hard to describe. They weren’t driving this bus — it was kind of being driven at them. I think that was frustrating for both of them. They didn’t raise these issues. They didn’t raise the accusations. They didn’t file any complaints, yet they were both caught up in the middle of something that they didn’t ask to be apart of,” he says. “They handled it the best way they could but then also the story caught like wildfire and got a little bit out of control.”
Bachelor in Paradise airs Mondays and Tuesdays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.