Survivor Contestants Apologize for Using Sexual Misconduct Accusations 'for Gameplay'
Survivor: Island of the Idols contestants Elizabeth Beisel and Missy Byrd are apologizing after this week’s highly controversial episode, in which they admitted to exaggerating allegations of “inappropriate touching” from fellow contestant Dan Spilo.
In a statement posted on Twitter Thursday, Beisel, 27, apologized to “Survivor viewers, past players, family and friends.”
“After watching the episode, my eyes were opened to a completely different truth, and I received an abundance of information that I was entirely unaware of while playing the game,” she wrote. “I had no idea the severity of the situation.”
Beisel then apologized to contestant Kellee Kim, who was the first person to express concern about Spilo allegedly being too touchy and violating her personal space on the show, even after making multiple requests for him to stop.
“I was sick to my stomach watching the episode and seeing how much pain you were in,” Beisel wrote. “I wholeheartedly apologize to you for using your accusations against Dan for gameplay.”
Beisel also apologized to Janet Carbin, the self-elected mom of the group who she and Byrd convinced to vote off Spilo.
“Sexual harassment and sexual assault are extremely serious, life altering topics that I do not take lightly,” Beisel wrote. “They have no business being used as tactics to further one’s own agenda, whether it be in real life or in the game of Survivor. I am beyond disappointed in my behavior and will use this as a life-changing, teaching moment.”
Byrd, 24, also apologized to Kim and Carbin on Twitter Thursday.
“I became so caught up in game play that I did not realize a very serious situation, nor did I handle it with the care that it deserved,” she wrote. “Due to the nature of Survivor, I was viewing the game through a small lens and with a limited scope.”
“This is a life changing learning moment for me,” Byrd added. “Sexual assault is never to be taken lightly, and I’d like to apologize to any viewers that have been victimized.”
Contestant Lauren Beck also apologized on Twitter for voting to keep Spilo over Kim, saying, “All women should be as brave as Kellee and stand up for themselves when put in similar situations. I am sorry I didn’t voice this opinion on last night’s episode.”
A fourth contestant, Aaron Meredith, also apologized for his role in the incident in a tearful video posted on Instagram Thursday. According to Entertainment Weekly, Meredith accused Carbin of using the allegations as a strategy and of “trying to spin this into something that could potentially affect the life of Dan.”
“I want to publicly apologize for my behavior and my actions at tribal council last night,” he said in the clip. “Watching back the episode was extremely difficult and I, immediately after saying what I said in the game, regretted saying what I said.”
“Now watching it back I’m very disappointed in myself and how I conducted myself handling the emotions of this game in this situation,” he continued. “I’m not looking to make any justifications in my behavior. It was completely unwarranted. I was out of line. I was out of place. I let emotions get the best of me.”
After the episode, CBS (the network on which Survivor airs) and production company MGM released a joint statement obtained by Entertainment Weekly.
“In the episode broadcast last night, several female castaways discussed the behavior of a male castaway that made them uncomfortable,” the statement began. “During the filming of this episode, producers spoke off-camera to all the contestants still in the game, both as a group and individually, to hear any concerns and advise about appropriate boundaries. A formal warning was also given to the male castaway in question.”
“On Survivor, producers provide the castaways a wide berth to play the game,” the statement continued. “At the same time, all castaways are monitored and supervised at all times. They have full access to producers and doctors, and the production will intervene in situations where warranted.”
At the end of Wednesday’s episode, Kim was sent home after Beisel and Byrd both voted for her to be knocked off the island instead of Spilo.
“I feel anything that has to do with sexual uncomfortability has no place in a game environment,” she said during a confessional, adding that Byrd and Beisel embellishing their stories “disgusts” her.
Spilo apologized at the end of the episode for his behavior, telling his fellow players, “I work in the most high-wire industry in regards to this business. Most of my clients are women, most of the people I work with are women.”
“I work in an industry in which the #MeToo movement was formed and allowed — thank God — to blossom and become powerful and strong,” he said. “My personal feeling is if anyone ever felt for a second uncomfortable about anything I’ve ever done, I’m horrified about that and I’m terribly sorry.”