[Warning: This article contains details of sexual assault.]
ABC’s The Bachelor franchise just suffered its latest scandal to date, in a year that hasn’t lacked for reminders that “Seek out ‘love’ on a TV show, professionally,” might be the kind of gig that sometimes appeals to scuzzy, potentially criminal dudes. THR reports today on the network’s decision to pull the second episode of its new romance-by-blind-beauty-pageant-based spin-off The Proposal, after new allegations that one of its featured contestants played a part in facilitating a woman’s sexual assault.
Specifically, a Wisconsin woman named Erica Denae Meshke made a post on Facebook on Thursday night, in which she alleged that Proposal contestant Michael J. Friday lured her into a date on false pretenses, instead abandoning her with two older “friends” who proceeded to serve her spiked drinks and then sexually assault her. Meshke didn’t name Friday specifically, but included a link to a photo of him, identifying him as the man “directly responsible” for her assault.
ABC responded to Meshke’s charges earlier today, stating that “While the accusation was not related to the contestant’s appearance on the program, we take it very seriously,” and making it clear that the episode in question will be pulled while the matter undergoes review. The network’s Bachelor franchise has come under a number of slams over the last few months for its apparent failures to properly vet its potential Prince Charmings: Other black spots on the series’ recent record include Bachelorette contestant Garrett Yrigoyen, who’s been heavily criticized for “liking” posts mocking undocumented immigrants, the trans community, and Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg on social media, and—more recently—Yrigoyen’s fellow contestant, Lincoln Adim, who was convicted of indecent assault and battery over a 2016 incident in which he groped a woman on a cruise ship, just a week before the show’s latest season premiered.