comScore
Legal Analysis

Bachelor in Paradise‘s Corinne Confesses; What She Said Could Get Her in Legal Trouble

submit to reddit

Former “The Bachelor” and “Bachelor in Paradise” contestant Corinne Olympios dropped a bombshell that aired Tuesday night in an interview segment that was featured after the latest episode of “Bachelor in Paradise.” Earlier this year, Olympios was at the center of a scandal surrounding the reality program, when allegations swirled that she had been sexually assaulted by fellow cast member DeMario Jackson during the show’s filming. At the time, reports said that Corinne was extremely drunk and engaged in sexual activity with Jackson in front of other cast members while the cameras were rolling. There were conflicting accounts over whether she knew what was going on and was able to consent.

In the interview, Corinne placed the blame on herself, saying that she had taken medication before drinking, not realizing that the meds shouldn’t be mixed with booze. As a result, she said she appeared to be coherent and her usual self, even though she was “mentally checked out, like Corinne is not here right now.” She said there was no way for anyone to know what her condition was, based on how she appeared.

“I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault,” she said. “I don’t blame DeMario, I never pointed fingers at DeMario, I never said a bad word about DeMario.”

This is very different from what Olympios said when news of the incident got out in June. Back then, she said, “I am a victim and have spent the last week trying to make sense of what happened.” She also hired an attorney “to obtain justice.”

Production of the reality show came to a screeching halt when a producer reported the incident to Warner Bros., who produces the show. After an internal investigation, WB found no evidence of sexual assault, and filming picked up, this time without Olympios or Jackson. Olympios’ legal team also conducted an investigation,which ended without further action.

Jackson, meanwhile, had threatened to take legal action of his own. He told People in June, “It’s unfortunate that my character and family name has been assassinated this past week with false claims and malicious allegations.” He also said, “I will be taking swift and appropriate legal action until my name is cleared and, per the advice of legal counsel, will be seeking all available remedies entitled to me under the laws.”

It remains to be seen what Jackson will do now, but it sure sounds like Corinne just admitted to making false statements about what happened. Yes, now she’s exonerating Jackson, and she claims that she never pointed a finger at him, but she did refer to herself as a victim at the time. Taken in the context of reports that Jackson assaulted her, that sure sounds like a false accusation of a horrible crime.

A case for defamation of a public figure requires that a false, damaging statement be made to a third party (like the media or their viewers), with “actual malice.” Actual malice means knowledge that the statement was false or a reckless disregard for whether it’s true. By falsely calling herself a victim after engaging in sexual activity with Jackson, that could fit the bill. Her defense, of course, would be that she didn’t have a clear memory of what happened, and based on her limited recollection and the information she had, she thought what she said was true. But that begs the question: at what point did she remember mixing meds and alcohol? If she always remembered that part, Jackson could have a solid case.

Alternatively, Corinne could say that while DeMario did nothing wrong, she felt victimized by the show’s producers for allowing the incident to take place. Indeed, at the time there were complaints that producers didn’t step in and intervene. So when Corinne called herself a victim, maybe the show’s producers were the target of that statement. That lowers the standard for a defamation case, because the producers aren’t public figures like DeMario, so there’s no need to prove actual malice. If anyone was fired or suffered any other harm because of Corinne’s accusatory statements, they may have a case against her.

This, of course, is all assuming that the matter hasn’t already been settled behind the scenes. Before giving her televised confession, Corinne could have reached agreements with all or some of the parties involved to avoid legal battles.

[Image via ABC screengrab]

  1. Mediaite
  2. The Mary Sue
  3. RunwayRiot
  4. LawNewz
  5. Gossip Cop