×

‘The Bachelor’ Contestant on Revealing Sexual Assault: ‘I Thought It Was Going to Be Hell’

SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “The Bachelor: Women Tell All” that aired Tuesday, Mar. 5.

After sharing that she had been sexually assaulted in college, “The Bachelor” contestant Caelynn Miller-Keyes says she suffered from anxiety up until the episode aired and didn’t expect so much support from fans.

I was like, ‘People are going to rip me apart on Twitter.’ I thought it was going to be hell, people wouldn’t believe me, and I’d have to relive that same PTSD I had in college of not being believed,” Miller-Keyes told Variety at the taping of “The Bachelor: The Women Tell All” reunion in Los Angeles, Calif. 

Instead, she says the reaction was the opposite. “People are becoming more understanding and compassionate toward survivors,” she said.

Miller-Keyes shared her story with titular Bachelor Colton Underwood during a one-on-one date in Singapore during Week 4. The Miss North Carolina titleholder previously spoke about her sexual assault at the 2018 Miss America competition, where she went on to place as the first runner-up. In this season of “The Bachelor,” she was eliminated after the hometown visits during Week 8, coming in fourth place on the dating show.

“It was one of those conversations and moments that was bigger than the show itself,” Underwood told Variety. “She’s extremely brave and an incredible person and for her to have the safety in our relationship to be able to be open and discuss that, was very powerful.”

Nearly two years after the spinoff show “Bachelor in Paradise” halted production after sexual misconduct allegations on set, the flagship series was able to give a platform for Miller-Keyes’ story during the #MeToo era. It was the first time a contestant on any “Bachelor” show shared a story of previous sexual abuse on-screen.

“We just wanted to care for everybody. We took great lengths as a production, and I give a lot of credit to our producers for making that moment and that environment as safe, comfortable and personal as possible,” host Chris Harrison told Variety. “Caelynn was brave and courageous, and I think the impact was felt by our viewers. Not to take away from celebrities when they are victims, but there’s something about just a normal, everyday girl — the face of all of our daughters — in Caelynn saying her truth. I think that’s what hit home for everybody. I’m glad it had the impact it did because that’s a conversation we need to have.”

“The Women Tell All” brought back 19 of the contestants from Underwood’s season to discuss their time on the show and rehash old fights. The peak of all the arguing occurred when Courtney Curtis confronted Demi Burnett, the season’s biggest and most boisterous villain, and put a pacifier in her mouth. Another yelling match pitted Nicole Lopez-Alvar against Onyeka Ehie, whom Lopez-Alvar claimed bullied her on the show.

“There was a lot of drama, that’s nothing new, but usually we come to resolutions more often than not,” Harrison said. “This show had a lot of unresolved issues when we moved on. Everyone was pretty heated.”

Coming in fourth place on Season 14 of “The Bachelorette,” Underwood surprised love interest Becca Kufrin and viewers by sharing that he was still a virgin, waiting to find the right woman with whom to fall in love. His virginity became a hot topic on his season, as ABC promotions played up that facet of his life.

“I think the virginity was definitely overplayed,” Underwood said. “Thank god there was the fence to distract people.”

On the hometown visits episode just ahead of the “Women Tell All” special, Cassie Randolph’s dad refused to give his blessing to Underwood, who had previously confessed he was falling in love with Randolph even though she was not ready to reciprocate the feelings. A week later, Randolph was surprised to see her dad show up on set in Portugal and cast further doubt on her relationship with the Bachelor. Randolph then tearfully confronted Underwood, and elected to leave on her own. After she left, an annoyed Underwood pushed a camera out of his face as he walked away from the show’s producers. The Bachelor then lifted himself over a 6-foot tall fence in a single fluid motion and disappeared, much to the disbelief of the camera crew. 

“You watch a very emotional, tough conversation take place and then me try to figure out where exactly I was at. In that moment, I needed to be by myself and make the best decision for me as a human being. That was just to get away,” Underwood said. “It was a great feeling, and it was something that I needed.”

Harrison also alluded to the fact that the moment has a great impact on Underwood’s proposal to the eventual winner of the season. “What happens after is what people will remember about how this thing ends,” he said. “People will see it’s not just hyperbole; it actually is this pivotal moment that sets up everything from then on out.”

Also during the taping, Burnett addressed her multiple disagreements with several other women, but told Variety that she “wouldn’t change anything.” Over the course of the show, she stirred up drama by making comments about contestants’ older ages, whisking Underwood away to give him a massage wearing a bathrobe and her calling another woman the “cancer of the house.”

I think I killed it. I made the season. I will forever be remembered,” she said. “What I hope people take away is to be undeniably yourself, and to own it in everything you do. Sometimes I probably took it too far, but either way at least I stood out.”

Some think Burnett’s over-the-top personality and notoriety on the season would make her a perfect contestant for “Bachelor in Paradise,” but she claimed to not know anything about casting for the spinoff.

Typically drawn from the cast of “The Bachelor,” the next star of “The Bachelorette” has yet to be announced, but writer-producer Mike Fleiss raised fans’ interest by tweeting that Khloe Kardashian was in consideration for the leading role after her recent breakup. Despite her swift rejection of that idea, the cast shared their thoughts on the possibility.

“She needs to do what’s best for her as a human being and take her time and grieve,” Underwood said. But, he added, “A Kardashian as a Bachelorette would be great TV.”

“The Bachelor” airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

More TV

  • Joe Biden SXSW

    As Democrats Debate, TV News Tunes In Something Other Than Trump

    NBC News’ “Meet the Press” and CBS News’ “Face The Nation” regularly compete for Sunday-morning audiences and scoops from politicos. But this past weekend they looked nothing like one another. On NBC, President Donald Trump dominated the hour by sitting down for a taped interview with host Chuck Todd. Over at CBS, “Nation” moderator Margaret [...]

  • Myst Computer Game

    'Myst' Film and TV Rights Sell to Village Roadshow

    “Myst,” the influential video game that helped usher in the CD-ROM era, may inspire an ambitious multi-platform film and television universe. Village Roadshow Entertainment Group, the Australian-American co-producer and co-financier of the “Matrix” and “Sherlock Holmes” franchises, has acquired the rights to the first-person graphic adventure. For those born post-90s, “Myst” was wildly popular and [...]

  • FOX Entertainment Logo © FOX 2019

    Fox Orders Holiday Event Series 'A Moody Christmas' Based on Australian Comedy

    Fox is moving forward with its long-gestating American adaptation of the Australian comedy miniseries “A Moody Christmas” as a holiday event series, Variety has learned. The single-cam comedy follows Dan Moody as he returns home to spend Christmas with his dysfunctional family. When he arrives, he’s met with the inevitable madness of a family whose [...]

  • ProSiebenSat.1 and Discovery Streamer Joyn Nets

    ProSiebenSat.1 and Discovery Streamer Joyn Snags International Dramas

    Joyn has acquired a trio of international drama series from Beta Film. The German streaming service is run by local media giant ProSiebenSat.1 and Discovery. It has acquired Alex Pina’s acclaimed Spanish drama “The Pier,” Nordic noir thriller “Hassel,” and Russian drama “Trigger.” A U.S. deal is understood to be in the offing for “The [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Beth Chapman, 'Dog the Bounty Hunter' Star, Dies at 51

    Beth Chapman, who was a staple of the TV show “Dog the Bounty Hunter” along with her husband, died Wednesday at a Honolulu hospital after days spent in a medically induced coma. She was 51. Her husband Duane Chapman confirmed the news on Twitter. “It’s 5:32 in Hawaii, this is the time she would wake [...]

  • 'The Handmaid's Tale' Team on Making

    'The Handmaid's Tale' Team on Making Washington D.C. 'Gilead on Steroids'

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “Household,” the sixth episode of the third season of “The Handmaid’s Tale.” For two and a half seasons, life in the dystopian regime of “The Handmaid’s Tale’s” Gilead appeared to be the worst possible future for a woman like June (Elisabeth Moss). But then she [...]

  • Michael Chiklis

    Paramount Network Orders Michael Chiklis Drama 'Coyote' to Series

    Paramount Network has greenlit the Michael Chiklis-led drama series “Coyote.” The Viacom-owned cabler has ordered a 10-episode first season of the one-hour series, the development of which was first announced in May. Chiklis stars as Ben Clemens who, after 32 years as a border patrol agent, is forced to work for the very people he [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content