DeMario Jackson exclusively sat down with E! News for what turned out to be an intense interview about what happened that night on the set of Bachelor in Paradise with Corinne Olympios—the night that resulted in production being shut down amid claims of possible sexual misconduct.
Over the course of our two-hour interview, DeMario went into explicit detail about the salacious events that unfolded in the swimming pool and his ongoing struggle to put the pieces of his life back together. In between the tears there was confusion and sadness, and yet he remained hopeful that, ultimately, his name will be cleared.
Here is DeMario's play-by-play of what really went down in Paradise and how it felt to be at the center of the sex scandal that rocked one of the biggest reality TV franchises in the world:
How are you doing?
This week has been wild. It's been a crazy roller coaster but throughout the whole entire process my mother, my father, aunts, uncles...school teachers, all my castmates...It's been humbling. You can meet people for three days. I knew them for less than 72 hours and in that time frame, they went to bat for me. They spoke on my integrity and who I was as a man and what I did on set, and it was just really humbling.
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I can't even imagine how it would feel to be accused of something so serious—sexual misconduct.
It was stressful for me...My dad, he kept me extremely strong and kept me grounded and humble, but having your mom cry every day for something you know you didn't do, something that you knew was on tape, something that so many people saw and witnessed—and for me I kept playing it over and over in my head, "Why is this happening?" I'm extremely thankful for family and friends, that's the number one thing that I can stress that's got me through the hardest 11 days of my entire life.
How did you break the news to your family about the accusation?
I went to my dad's house and I was pacing back and forth. He goes, "Hey, like, what's wrong?" It was just one of those father-type moments where he knew...moments later my mother called me, it was mother's intuition.
Telling them what happened from my side and what was being put out on the Internet...I saw nasty things on both sides. They were shaming her, shaming me. All you saw was "black man, white girl" and you just assumed the worst. I was raised by a strong mother, I have sisters, I like a lot of dominant strong women, and to see Corinne get disrespected and her name dragged through the mud…it just sucked. To witness it and be in the middle of a scandal, but it was turned into this this race war. It was black and white. And it wasn't the case. People were saying bad things about her and me and before anything was out, we were already guilty.
Let's go right back to the beginning of the story...
When you first arrive, you're in your hotel room and you're pretty pumped for it. It's a great feeling because if you are in it, you understand how you could find love. You're in Mexico, you have great food, great drinks…the ambience is just magnificent. It's very romantic.
[The producers ask you] "Who do you want to see here? Do you have any crushes from past seasons?" I knew, like, Corinne, Raven [Gates] and Alexis [Waters]. Just based off of what I saw personality-wise.
So you already liked Corinne before meeting her?
One hundred percent. What I liked about Corinne was the zero f--ks attitude. She's just very out there, like a very spiritual vibe. She could care less about what anybody else thinks.
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Describe that first moment of actually meeting Corinne.
The first moment was great. When I came down the stairs, it was crazy because from the last season with the fake girlfriend of mine, I was like the villain [from my season on The Bachelorette].
I was nervous. I was sweating...Like I'm down here with all of Rachel's friends...then Alexis grabbed my hand and said, 'let's go take a shot'...It was like the weight had been lifted off of me.
Our first real conversation was at the bar. We were complimenting each other on being villains. I was like, "Look, I've accepted this role. In real life, I hang out with my grandmother on weekends. But you remember the villains." We were just kind of laughing, "Oh we're about to dominate Paradise," like homie stuff. Then, we had a few drinks. And then she hops in my arms and starts making out with me.
Was she a good kisser?
She's a great kisser! I am looking at my castmates like, "Yeah, man, I got this." I am leading by example. Cameras are all on us…based off of what I've seen last season with Nick [Viall on The Bachelor], it was a Corinne moment. One of the moments where it's going to be like, 'Oh my God, everybody is going to be tweeting about it, Facebooking, Instagramming." It was a great moment!
Are you thinking, "This is going to get us attention"?
Yeah! Our conversation leading up to that point was talking about dominating Paradise. For her it was like, "follow my lead" type of thing, she was very confident. I was complimenting her, "Yo, you built your brand, you built everything off of these wow moments." And my season with Rachel, I had a lot wow moments. And she's like, "That's just who we are, people like us, we say things, we do things."
You are both strategizing?
Yeah, I mean at that point for Paradise, it's all about strategizing...
Teaming up and winning.
At this point, how many drinks had you had?
We are three shots in and I remember, I had my big mixed drink in my hand. When she jumped, I put it down on the bar and from there it was like when dogs piss on things and claim their territory. I felt like that...I pissed on all of Paradise, like "I own this s--t. Sorry to all the big dogs in Paradise right now, this is my shot, I am running it, I own Paradise right now." Just having her in one arm and me just looking around, like panning the room, "Hell yeah."
Did she have her legs wrapped around you?
Correct. We're like making out. It's one of those cheesy Hollywood films. I mean, I wouldn't turn down Corinne. She's a beautiful woman!
Did she seem drunk at this point?
No! The thing is that we had all just got going, we were all talking and mingling...This is probably around between 4 and 5 [o'clock], it was extremely early…A lot of people think she is this dumb blonde, so to speak, and that's so false. She's actually really smart…she's very calculated and she knows that her particular dumbing down, people love that. We're reality TV personalities. Like for me, I am not a villain in real life but if you want to paint [me] as that, that's fine.
So she's in your arms and you're drinking. Then what happens?
She's like, "Let's go to the pool." A part of Paradise is the whole couples thing. The way to win back America is to get coupled up. They want to see you not as this womanizer....[With Corinne] I'm so happy...I'm so pumped. I'm so fired up. It was a great feeling.
It's crazy because when you're a man, mostly African-American men, no matter where you are, you look for things that will help you out. At that moment, I made sure the cameras followed us. My spidey senses went off. It was two cameras, the audio guy and a producer.
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Just you and her go to the pool?
Her and I were in the pool, fired up, having fun. Kissing, rubbing, touching...nothing too sexual yet. And then things got wild. It was more like her being the aggressor, which was sexy. When you have an attractive girl telling you what she wants...this is hot, I like it. For the most part, the cameras are around, it's a very intimate scene. I'm feeling the girl, I'm into this.
Are you aroused?
I get every guy's biggest fear. I get straight whiskey dick. I'm like, "You've gotta be kidding me." She's like, "It's OK, whatever." I get out of the pool, I have my legs in the pool...this is when she gets up out of the pool and puts her lady parts right on my face… I don't even know sober girls who can do that. She straddled me, like put her...right on my, literally smack dab right there. I'm like, "Oh, s--t."
Did she pull down her bikini bottoms?
Yeah, we were already naked at that point. We had been naked the second we got into the pool...The crazy thing about all of this, Jasmine [Goode], my castmate, walked by when all this happened and they were coherent, they were talking, lucid, seemed super normal. It was nothing out of the ordinary. It was nothing that hasn't been seen on Paradise before... We were both super coherent, we were both speaking. For me, 100 percent, it never once hit me, "this girl is too drunk."
How long did the oral sex go on for?
Like 10, 20 seconds. We got back into the pool, laughed about it.
They're filming the whole thing?
The whole thing. Now that I look back on it, I'm like WTF, but at the moment, it's Paradise.
You're just in it, you're in the zone.
You're in it.
The cute girl that you liked before you even got there is interested in you...
Yeah. It was a very cool feeling. It just flowed but it was very natural too… We both had sexual chemistry, it was hot.
Was she slurring her words?
No, nothing... Once we had our little scene or whatever...we were getting ready to get lined up because Chris Harrison was coming to speak to us. And from there everybody was kind of like, "Damn, you got Paradise started!" I said something about not kissing and telling...and we all took shots. That night was probably the wildest night of my entire life, we all went for it. Chris comes and talks to us like an hour or so later and, no lie, between that hour, it was like go time…. we're [all] like going shot for shot…and the girls were keeping up. This is when things started to turn for me.
Where was Corinne?
She's still there, she's like a free spirit.
Was she doing shots at that point?
Yeah. She was doing shots. Everybody is. At this point it's not like a couple thing yet. My whole thing was not really committing to one thing. We would make the eye contact but I was still weighing my options. Then we go up to Chris and at this point we're just all drunk. At one point Chris is like, "DeMario, get your s--t together, pick your head up, open your eyes." "Corinne, get up."...Corinne's drunk, everybody is drunk. But it's not bad—we're just in Paradise. Chris is, like, poking fun at us.
There are reports that Corinne kissed someone else that night.
Correct, yeah. Her and Derek [Peth] had their little thing. She like came up, jumped in his arms and slammed him to the ground, like all over him. At that point that's when I'm like, "Oh s--t, I lost my girl already." It's all fun and games. I was told by producers you can't catch feelings. You can't be Drake, you gotta be 100-percent Kanye. You know if you're Drake in Paradise, you're going to leave early. If you're Kanye you're going to be ruthless, really not care about anybody but yourself and ultimately win.
Did Corinne seem jealous of you and other girls talking?
No. She was in her zone. She could care less. That's why I like Corinne because she's the kind of girl where she feels like she's like her and Beyoncé are the only two people in her world….At the end of the day she knows she can get any guy on the island.
I know you were really drunk, so I don't necessarily expect you to notice this, but was she stumbling at the end of the night? Did she seem drunk?
I heard she had a busted knee. And Jasmine, Corinne and Raven fell coming down the stairs and went to medical... I read something that said "after she got out of the pool with DeMario, she was bruised and battered but Jasmine and Raven were like, 'nope, that's false.'"
Next morning, what happened?
It was like the wildest morning because everybody wakes up hungover, dying...I remember, first people I see was Corinne and I was like, "Oh, your knee," and she was like, "Oh my God, yeah, I fell"...We're like talking, I gave her a hug and then we all went up and got breakfast together.
We're all sitting around the table and we're all eating and discussing like the f--kery that was yesterday. And we're all just like, "Yesterday was nuts"..."Do you remember when this happened?"...And Corinne is right there, we're talking. At this point, she tells us one of her favorite things to do is baking pies. We make fun of her, we're like "Corinne, you cannot do anything. I would never trust you in a kitchen." We're busting her balls, it was super homie stuff...It was never like she was weird or standoffish.
She didn't seem mad at all?
She wasn't mad. I offered her a shot but she said production had cut her off from drinking for the day.
In subsequent reports, she says she blacked out, but on that morning was she reminiscing?
She didn't say, "I was in a pool," but we were all talking about how wild the previous day was, we were all recapping.
At what point did you find out something is terribly wrong and filming is going to be suspended?
We filmed Sunday...we filmed all day Monday, all day Tuesday.
Did you and Corinne kiss again?
No, she started to mack on Vinny [Ventiera] by now...not to shame her, it's Paradise! Paradise is for people to mate...try to see what fits for you. On Tuesday, we had conversations throughout the day...never an awkward moment, never...Tuesday we got to know each other a little bit more sober, actually talking. We kind of both were like, "We had a fun night..." You get the picture.
So on Tuesday...
We're up there, drinking, having fun...and someone says one of the producers wants to talk to you. I go into the room and wait...I'm sweating.... anxiety attacks. [The producer] goes, "Take off your mic...Here's what I'm gonna need you to do. I'm going to need you to bow out. I'm going to need you to tell Chris and the crew you love them, but you're not there for the right reasons."
I'm like, "What the f--k!" [The producer said], "Let's just say, I know things and it would be best but it's going to be bad if you don't leave tonight." I'm confused...I have so many things running through my mind. The whole Corinne incident starts coming back in my mind...I'm replaying it in my mind. I'm like, "There's no way it has to do with this, there were people there...we're good."
I'm like, "Dude, do you know my situation? Do you know the last two months for me [have been] hell?...People call me cheater and all this stuff that isn't true. I came here to redeem myself."
Then you are told there has been a complaint by a third party about what happened between you and Corinne in the pool...
[I'm told] "a third party person filed a complaint about you and Corinne's sexual activity in the water the other day." [I said,] "What?" And he's like, "a third party." I said, "do they not know what show we work on? This is Paradise, right?...Having sex, have we not ever filmed that?" [He said,] "Oh no, we've filmed having sex"...[I explained] "we didn't really go for it and actually have real sex. We had, like, oral sex, but it wasn't real sex." [And the producer says], "Yeah, I know." So [I say] "what is it?"
At Paradise you hook up, that's what you do...People have sex here. We're all adults...If you're upset about people having sex, go get another job. And [the producer said] "yeah, I know." "So why do I have to go home?" "We're just taking [precautions]."
I'm like, "what does a third party have to do with Corinne and I? Did she consent? Yeah. Did you consent? Yeah."
Did you ask him that, "did she consent?"
I asked him that, yeah, and he's like, "Well, she didn't say anything." "So then why are we caring? "Well, it's a workplace environment and we take these things serious"...[I asked] "Was it a castmate? Was it a producer?" [The producer said he couldn't say.]...So I get into the van and I go back to the hotel room. And I'm pacing all night.
The next morning they didn't want me to be on set for whatever reason. I knew it was starting to turn for the worst...
I just cried. I don't even know why I cried. I was like sad as f--k. I'm like, "What did I do—did I date your daughter? What did I do besides give everybody love?"
I put myself in a very vulnerable situation by coming onto national TV to find love [on The Bachelorette]. I then get outed by some crazy Bumble chick...I'm then back on here to find love, and the first episode I come back I don't have the opportunity to do anything.
Did you feel used and manipulated?
I felt used...
The producer's like, "We can't have you on the show." I'm like, "This person, what did they see?" He said, "...It's raunchy as s--t, it's soft-core porn." He was so sincere...I got tears in my eyes, he has tears in his eyes...But I'm thinking, I came to Paradise to find love, meet new friends and make America smile again.
[The producer] said production might be shut down...He didn't know how long the investigation was going to go on. I'm very upset for selfish reasons...but then I realize that 300-plus people [work on the show]—like there's some people who need this month's check. There's like some mother and father who probably won't be able to make their bills. Last thing I want to do is come here and be like, "Yeah let me get wild and crazy in the pool and then everybody loses their jobs."
Did you get to see your castmates and Corinne before you left?
No. That was the most challenging moment ever. I'm like, "Can I tell them bye?" And they're like, "No."
You get home. At what point does it hit the press?
I get home on Thursday and it hits the press on Sunday night. I got a call from a producer that was just, "Hey, s--t's about to get real, real fast"...I hang up my phone and, holy s--t, my group chat was on fire. Like, "What did you and Corinne do, you guys broke Paradise!" The next thing you know I feel like Beyoncé announcing she had the twins...I was the number-one trending person in the world for three straight days. The f--king world, Demario Jackson, for the wrong reasons!
Just those words, "sexual assault"...
It's every man's biggest fear. Like, no man wants to be attached to that...That ruins you...for life. That's something that sticks with you. When I have children one day they are going to Google their dad's name, this is going to pop up. That's not who I am.
You then find out...
The producer who filed this claim happens to be Corinne's best friend. She has never watched the tape. She wasn't even present while this was going on. She heard over a walkie talkie later on in the night when Corinne was drunk, that Corinne and DeMario hooked up. I'm like, "what about three other guys? What about them?"
It is unclear whether the producer DeMario is referencing was the first or second crew member to file a complaint.
So you are a sexual assaulter in the eyes of the public? Corinne then releases a statement and says she is a victim. What is going on in your head?
Conspiracy. 'Cause it goes back to the very beginning when she came up to me, hopped in my arms, led me to the pool. It's like a movie…by now I'm realizing I got played.
Not her. I just got played in general. I'm not sure by who. It wasn't a coincidence that she hopped in my arms and we went to the pool and then these days go by...Then all of a sudden you find out she has a boyfriend and she promised her boyfriend that she wasn't going to cheat in Paradise. But she cheats in Paradise...It's easy for the public to get angry with the big black man, you know?
The minute you release this black man's face and this white girl's face, before either of us commented on it, I was already like a rapist and I was like, excuse my French, a n---er, a monkey, and she's a whore and a slut. They were slut-shaming her because of what she did last season with Nick. People were just angry, like it was like black people didn't like her and white people didn't like me, and people were mad because instead of waiting for the facts to come out...
Were you angry?
Even through all of my darkness, I'm like damn, there's children waking up without fathers, there's mothers waking up without husbands. Yeah, my situation is terrible...but I'm thankful enough to be in a situation where I can get the correct help. I have a great family, I have a great support system. There's people out here who are in my situation right now who would be in jail because they cannot. I was very upset, but my dad kept me calm. At the end of the day men lie, women lie….But the tape evidence... you can't front on tape.
When did you last speak to Corinne?
I haven't spoken to her since Mexico.
If you could speak to her now, what would you say to her?
That I love her, I'm here for her. She's experiencing the same thing that I am. I feel bad for her, I feel bad for her family. I feel like she was given wrong information or she was a part of something that was much bigger. I have so much love in my body, even through all this experience. If she walked in right now I would give her a hug.
I would really like to ask her, what happened? I just want the truth. I would love to sit down and speak to her real, like, "I'm not gonna let you ruin somebody. I love you to death, Corinne, but that's not right. That didn't happen."
One thing I've noticed is that she's saying she doesn't remember and she saying she doesn't blame me, she blames production. But at the same time saying you don't remember is kind of like saying...it's a gray area…
You sat with her the morning after, you said you reminisced with her and, and now she saying she doesn't remember...
I don't know what's in her head I mean we spoke about things. I'm just not sure about the information that she was fed from this "third party person."
Warner Bros. has closed the investigation. Her lawyer says they want the investigation to continue. How did you feel when you heard that?
That's something my legal team handles.
Bachelor in Paradiseis resuming filming. Do you blame them?
No. I feel like we're all like pawns in the game...We're all victims to a certain degree...We are [all] sitting here a little confused...the bad thing is last week. The good thing is this week. I am able to be here and talk to you and be able to clear my family name….Just to be able to be here and to breath more. I haven't had anxiety this whole interview, I still don't have an appetite but it's very cool to at least be getting out my side, finally!
Are you going to go back to Bachelor in Paradise?
I have not thought about that...at this moment I don't care about that. I don't care about anything but my family. This whole experience was humbling.
If you were to go back on Bachelor in Paradise, how could you trust them?
I honestly believe that it wasn't them. A lot of people's lives were on the line, like a lot of money. I could be super naive to it and I could be that person who goes into Paradise and get screwed again, or I could be that person that finds love.
You became very close to Alexis on set. Would you go back for her?
If I was to go back it would be strictly for her, but I don't even know if I am going to go back.
How supportive have your other castmates been?
Everyone has been extremely supportive, which is wild because I knew a lot of the girls for three days, you know, like 72 hours.
Do you want the tape of the incident released?
Yes, because I want people to see the entire incident and see exactly what happened.
Who are you today as opposed to who you were two weeks ago?
I am still the same person. I haven't been sleeping as much, but I am not going to be that person that is like "f--k the world." I am still going to smile. The end goal is making sure I am right, health-wise...see my therapist, and trying to get those crazy thoughts out of my mind and try to sleep a little better, try to get my appetite up. But yeah, I am still me for the most part.
Meanwhile, production has resumed on Bachelor in Paradise and is expected to continue until July 5. Upon the completion of its internal investigation into complaints of misconduct on the set, Warner Bros. said in a statement "that the tape does not support any charge of misconduct by a cast member. Nor does the tape show, contrary to many press reports, that the safety of any cast member was ever in jeopardy."
The studio continued, "Production on this season of Bachelor in Paradise will be resuming, and we plan to implement certain changes to the show's policies and procedures to enhance and further ensure the safety and security of all participants."
Corinne's attorney, Marty Singer, told E! News last week, "It comes as no surprise that Warner Bros., as a result of its own internal investigation, would state that no wrongdoing had occurred. Our own investigation will continue based on multiple new witnesses coming forward revealing what they saw and heard."
See more of Melanie Bromley's exclusive interview with DeMario Jackson tonight on E! News at 7 p.m. & 11 p.m.