The situation over at ABC just keeps getting worse.
Then it came to light that one of the contestants on this season of The Bachelorette had a penchant for liking transphobic, anti-immigrant memes on Instagram; another contestant, Lincoln Adim, was convicted of indecent assault and battery, yet still allowed on the show somehow. And a would-be contestant on the televised speed-dating show The Proposal was accused by a woman of helping to facilitate her sexual assault, with a second woman also coming forward and naming him as her rapist in an interview with The Daily Beast.
A new development in ABC’s summer shitstorm came this week when former Bachelor contestant and Bachelor nation fan favorite Bekah Martinez took to Instagram to share sexual harassment allegations against Leandro “Leo” Dottavio—himself a previously eliminated contestant on the most recent season of The Bachelorette. Screenshots obtained by Martinez from conversations with other women allege that Dottavio pursued women in committed relationships and sent them “multiple, unwanted dick pics.” Others who were in contact with Martinez claim to have “disgusting” stories of Dottavio “being more than creepy towards women,” and Martinez says she has plenty of firsthand accounts from other women with specific examples of Dottavio’s sexual harassment.
Screenshots shared by Martinez (preserved in a section called “Highlights”) also show Dottavio leaving sexally explicit comments on Instagram photos, like “you need my big dick.”
In a video posted around the same time as the screenshots, Martinez said she’d been “threatened” by Dottavio’s lawyers, who said they’d sue her for defamation if she didn’t remove the inflammatory screenshots and issue a public apology. Martinez was defiant in her refusal to back down. “You know what, Leo? That’s not going to happen.”
Martinez also posted screenshots of her confrontation with Dottavio via Instagram DM. Dottavio shared a message he’d gotten accusing Martinez of child molestation, and said “I’ll always be better than you bekah.” Dottavio’s supporters were quick to jump on the bandwagon, adding accusations of bestiality to the mix and forcing Martinez to defend herself in Instagram comments. “Molesting children and abusing animals are horrible, horrible acts. I have never done either of those things, and they are untrue claims from men who are mad that I am calling someone out on the wrongdoings,” Martinez wrote. “These are lies in an attempt to ruin my credibility. This is why victims do not speak up.”
In a statement to Jezebel, Dottavio claimed that he had never directly been accused of sexual harassment. “I am NOT A PERFECT person nor have I ever claimed to be,” he said. “I am not the man I was 2 years ago let alone 14 years ago. It’s important for women to speak out if they felt uncomfortable or harassed. I support that.” Dottavio added that he hoped any women who felt victimized by him would contact him directly. “I want to take this as an opportunity to better myself and the treatment of women in my life,” he said.
Martinez also shared a statement with Jezebel, detailing the reports she’d received from multiple women regarding Dottavio’s behavior. She commented on Dottavio’s public statement and requests for women to contact him, saying she understands why they haven’t. “The way he’s handled everything up until now has been dismissive, frightening and unsympathetic,” Martinez said. “The fact that he’s now attempted to silence at least 3 women including myself and has succeeded with at least one is scary.”
She added, “He then attempted to put my character in question and ruin my credibility by claiming I was a child molester and animal abuser… The way Leo has handled this situation is a perfect example of why victims don’t feel safe addressing him or coming out publicly.”
Since Dottavio has already been eliminated (for unrelated reasons) from this season’s Bachelorette, it’s unclear what, if any, action ABC will take against the former contestant. With unsavory allegations seemingly coming to light every few weeks, Bachelor Nation and casual viewers alike are undoubtedly on edge about what the rest of this season will hold.