The Bachelorette host says the single dad turned Hebert into a "crestfallen, vulnerable little girl"

Credit: Rick Rowell/ABC

After only two episodes, this season of The Bachelorette has already featured a drunk suitor who passed out on the first night, a mysterious man in a mask and a trash-talking single dad who, despite admitting that Ashley Hebert wasn’t his type, wooed her fiercely. Host Chris Harrison spoke with reporters to preview next week’s explosive drama.

Bentley made it clear that he hoped Emily Maynard was the Bachelorette. Why cast him?
He obviously didn’t say all those derogatory things in casting. He might have said, “It would be cool if it was Emily.” He obviously didn’t say, “If it’s Ashley, I’m going to use and destroy her.”

Why didn’t producers warn Ashley?
If you have information about a guy before he even gets out of the limo, that’s beyond a red flag. We gave her the option and said, “You don’t have to meet this guy. We can pull him.” We justify everything by giving Ashley the power. It was her job to say no. We don’t step in and say, “That’s the wrong decision.” We never do. She was privy to some of the information. I had many conversations with her about this and so did the producers but she defended him every step of the way. She never heeded any of the warning signs.

Did she see footage of him saying all those nasty things?
We were only two weeks in and … I don’t know what steps we would have taken if this had gone on any longer or if we would have finally just shown her his interviews. Everyone has had a friend in this situation. If you’ve ever known anyone completely smitten with someone, you know that nothing you say makes sense or [makes a] difference. She just didn’t want to believe that Bentley was like that because he was the caring, sweet, doting single dad in front of her. The more you scream from the rooftops, the more they run to them and defend them.

Did she really fall for him?
If we had stopped the show the moment the limos arrived, he probably would have been the one. It almost happened that instantaneously. He was so smooth and so caring around her. She never got to see his true colors and eventually he was able to use that to crush her.

How does Ashley feel now?
Foolish. If she had to do it all over again, she’d probably never let the guy out of the limo. But it happened, and you get to see everything – warts and all …This is a real woman battling with her insecurities and figuring out if she can put herself back out there again.

Bentley’s defenders blame editing.
How? You see his face saying these things on camera. The things he said even joking were not appropriate. How would he feel if someone treated his daughter that way? The stunt he pulls as he’s leaving is the worst as far as messing with her mind. There’s not enough editing in the world good or bad that would have saved this guy.

Should we now expect a villain in every season?
We didn’t put this guy in there to draw out drama. People give us too much credit. This doesn’t turn out to be a good thing for us or Ashley. We almost had to shut down production. If it was two or three weeks later, we probably wouldn’t have finished. This makes her question everything – the rest of the guys, herself, if this was worth it. It was really rough for us to get her back on track. Ashley definitely has a hard time moving passed this. It will haunt her and play a major role the rest of the show. She [became] a different person – a crestfallen, vulnerable little girl.

With Bentley causing such a stir, it’s easy to forget that there are other men in the house – including one in a mask.
Another bomb is being dropped on Monday. The masked man will be unveiled … The joke went on a little too long and it became a bigger issue than he thought it would. He did it because he wanted her to see who he really was, but I don’t think he knows who he really is and it became about being the guy in a masquerade mask. And I thought if someone pulls this for this long, he better have a ridiculous combination of Brad Pitt and George Clooney under there.

Did he really keep it on at all times?
I never saw the guy’s face until he took the mask off. I heard at night he would get in bed, face the other direction, take off the mask and put on a sleeping mask. He was hardcore about it.