Reality TV Needs New Rules for Sexual Consent, Says Attorney Lisa Bloom

Corinne DeMario Lisa Bloom Bechelor in
Courtesy of ABC

Prominent attorney Lisa Bloom is calling on TV-dating shows to change the rules of consent for casts engaging in sexual behavior on camera in the wake of the “Bachelor in Paradise” controversy.

“I think it would be very helpful on these shows to have a course of conduct like a lot of these colleges have, which is there has to be an explicit verbal ‘yes’ to each sexual act,” said Bloom, who is currently working with other stars in the midst of high-profile cases, including Kathy Griffin.

Production was recently shut down on ABC’s “Bachelor in Paradise,” with Warner Bros. Television launching a formal investigation into “allegations of misconduct” on the set. Three days after news of the scandal broke, two contestants at the center of the situation — Corinne Olympios and DeMario Jackson — came forward, saying they are contemplating legal action.

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Bloom, who doesn’t work with either Jackson or Olympios, believes the reality-TV world would benefit from making sure cast members clearly express consent before any on-screen romance heats up.

“That sounds very lawyer-y and unsexy, but I would disagree — I think consent is very sexy,” said Bloom, who represented multiple women against former Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly during his sexual harassment scandal. “I think that would be a good rule for reality shows to adopt — reality shows that profit mightily off of attractive young people getting drunk and hooking up on their shows.”

As for whether or not there is a case, Bloom says, “I need to know more facts before I can come to that conclusion, but the video is going to be everything. The video is going to be hugely significant. What does that video show?”

The video is footage of the incident between Olympios and Jackson, given that “Bachelor in Paradise” cameras were rolling the entire time the incident occurred. While neither the network nor the production company has commented on the contents of the video, tabloid reports have alleged the duo was under the influence of alcohol and engaged in sexual activity in a swimming pool, which reportedly caused a producer to speak up, leading to the internal investigation and production shutdown.

“This is a complicated situation,” Bloom says. “On these reality shows, there is a lot of alcohol available and my understanding is that contestants are encouraged to drink a lot. Nobody should ever be encouraging someone to drink past the point of inebriation so that’s on the producers. But somebody who is legally an adult also has some responsibility for the choices they make about drinking. So that’s one issue.” (Both contestants are of legal drinking age; Olympios is 25 and Jackson is 30.)

But Bloom points out that alcohol isn’t the only factor to consider. “The second issue is if she’s sexually assaulted, that’s only the responsibility of the perpetrator — that is not her responsibility in any way, if she is the victim of sexual assault,” she says. “Anybody who is aware of that happening has a moral responsibility to turn off the cameras and get her help. These cases are very difficult.”

While Olympios has not detailed who she may be suing, Bloom says she would advise one of her clients in a similar situation to include both the perpetrator and production company — in this instance, Jackson and Warner Bros. TV. “He’s the one primarily responsible,” Bloom explains of any perpetrator. “The show may have encouraged him, so they’re responsible, too, but if the allegation is that he sexually assaulted her, he should be included.”

According to Olympios’ statement, the reality star appears to be claiming she was in a state of blackout during the alleged incident. Bloom says that state of mind could be very tricky to prove. “If on the video, she seems coherent and she’s speaking and seems to be consenting, that makes the whole thing murky,” the attorney says.

Reality dating shows are famous for encouraging drinking and hookups. So could there be more former “Bachelor” franchise contestants who step up with other claims, now that Olympios has set the stage? Bloom says that could be difficult — but possible.

“I’ve reviewed these reality show contracts and they are ridiculous — they are hundreds of hundreds of pages, and people sign away their right to claim, ‘I was drunk and I hooked up and now I’m embarrassed that’s on TV.’ They sign away their right to make that claim. [But] they don’t sign away their right to not be sexually assaulted. So that’s where I draw the line,” Bloom explains. “If they’re engaging in consensual behavior, the show gets to film that because that’s what they signed up for. But if they’re sexually assaulted, then they should come forward and they should come forward immediately because the time frames are short.”

Bloom says the “Bachelor in Paradise” situation should spark a change in protocol for all reality dating series going forward. “I hope that she wasn’t sexually assaulted, but if she was, I’m glad that she’s speaking out for her rights and standing up. And I hope that she does change their practices,” she says.

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  1. dollface says:

    I’ve got an idea. How about not allowing sex while filming reality TV! (Do your private business after work, like everybody else.) Real sex acts cannot be shown on TV anyway! This is so stupid and easy to fix. You must have legal boundaries in any business for a reason. Liabilities up the wazoo because some aholes in upper echelon of management pushing contestants to do this smut for ratings? I’ve got news for you. Women don’t tune in for the sex. They tune in for the possibility of love and romance. Wake up!

  2. Haz says:

    Oh wow I didn’t have the stomach to read what this woman even said, Bloom and her mother are both jokes. The fact her opinion is even sought after that trainwreck press conference with Kathy Griffin is baffling.

  3. BadCase says:

    Holy crap what more consent is needed from a women when she is the one to come up to the man and put his member in her mouth, and then she cries sexual assault and you idiots plaster it all over the news, i look forward to rags like this getting sued by him when he cleans out her bank

  4. EK says:

    She’s just bitter that she’s never asked to participate in these shows but rather has to live vicariously through clients she hunts down for representation. Lawyers are a necessity in the business but some, like her, are shameless publicity hounds.

  5. ncmacasl says:

    If the male contestant was also drunk, is he the only one responsible?? was *he* sober enough to give consent to *her*? Sounds like the PRODUCTION team had a responsibility to step in.

  6. 1Ronald says:

    We’re less likely to give credibility to anything Ms. “who represented multiple women against…” chooses to say on the topic. Beyond “the ambulance chaser has spoken” we see criminal negligence spilling over the barrel on this one and no agreement would save or would have saved the drunken sots from themselves.

  7. Cath says:

    Aren’t they also encouraged to engage in sexual activity? The only one of these shows I watch is Big Brother and there is a lot of “snuggling” under the covers for some of the contestants. Bloom is on the right track here. If you are encouraging such behavior the show/producers should monitor consent and step in if something is over the line (whatever that may be). What I don’t get is why the show allowed the situation to continue if a non-consensual activity was occurring. Someone should have stepped in at the time.

  8. geri313 says:

    Can we PLEASE stop referring to the people on reality shows as “stars” or “celebrities”? They are contestants, nothing more, nothing less. Just because many of them are fame mongers, and/or have been on multiple reality shows does not make them a star or a celebrity.

    • heyitsron says:

      Thanks for bringing this up. They may wish they were, like to think they are, but when all is said and done most if not all will end up returning to doing that 9 to 5 thing. The every day ordinary person will return to sleep in their bodies forever.

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