FALL FROM GRACE

‘The Bachelor’ Star Chris Soules Is Not the Nice Guy ABC Sold Us

Billed as the charming small town fella—and antidote to the gross Juan Pablo—Soules, who stands accused of leaving the scene of an accident that left a man dead, is anything but.

On Monday night, former Bachelor star Chris Soules was arrested and charged with leaving the scene of a fatal car crash, which killed 66-year-old Kenneth Mosher. Appearing at a Buchanan County, Iowa court, in a neon yellow jumpsuit and orange jail-issued slippers, Soules stroked his stubble and rubbed his hands nervously as a judge set a preliminary hearing for May 2 and informed him the felony charge comes with up to five years in prison.

According to the Buchanan County crash report, Soules was driving a pickup truck about 15 miles south of his farm when he rear-ended Mosher’s John Deere tractor around 8 p.m. on Monday. Speaking before the court, the county attorney said Soules “took off” from the scene before officers arrived and holed up in his home, refusing to come out for hours after officers arrived to question him. “At no point did Mr. Soules come out of the home or cooperate with law enforcement,” the county attorney said in court, asking for a $10,000 bond, which the judge granted.

Court documents revealed alcoholic beverages or containers were left at the scene, according to local news reports. Soules has not been charged with driving under the influence, but a press release from the Buchanan County Sheriff said the investigation was ongoing and “further charges may be pending.” A representative for Soules has not returned a request for comment.

For fans of Bachelor Nation, the news of Soules’ arrest was a shock. After all, Soules was supposed to be our Nice Guy.

Offered up by ABC in 2014 as the antidote to the franchise’s blatant misogynist Juan Pablo Galavis, Soules quickly moved from Andi Dorfman’s second runner-up (rejecting his small town as much as him) to star of his own season, and a very thirsty Bachelor Nation breathed a sigh of sweet relief.

Network producers packaged the 32-year-old soybean and corn farmer as the gee-golly small town romantic hero who could drive a tractor before he could drive a car and was “known for his million-dollar smile and chivalrous ways.” They promised Season 19 would be a sort of family values tour, and they delivered, making the women jump though wholesome hoops like camping outings and tractor races to compete for Soules’s Farmville version of true love: “You’re planting a seed and then that relationship begins to grow,” he told one of the ladytestants.

In hindsight, maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised. A publicly available criminal record betrayed a small town troublemaker behind his crooked smile—and early on revealed that Soules, the only son and future heir to a multi-million dollar farming operation, was more Footloose’s Chuck Cranston than Ren McCormack.

Iowa court records show Soules has racked up a lengthy rap sheet of traffic violations including reckless driving and speeding. In 2001, Soules, then 19, was found guilty of driving with an open container, and twice that year with possession of alcohol by a minor. In 2002, he was arrested and found guilty of disturbing the peace by fighting in public, “unlawful use of license,” and failing to stop at a stop sign, for which he paid fines. Then in 2005, Soules was arrested for operating a vehicle while under the influence after he passed out behind the wheel of his car. For that, he was sentenced to a 60-day suspended jail sentence, a year probation, and a $500 fine.

But the crimes of Soules’s youth didn’t deter Bachelor producers, who picked Soules over race car driver and Emily Maynard’s runner-up, Arie Luyendyk Jr., and they mattered even less to fans, who needed a wholesome hero to believe in after Galavis’s disaster of a season.

Even though the relationship with his winner Whitney Bischoff lasted only six months, the short-lived engagement is usual for the series, and Soules still did the compulsory Dancing with the Stars victory lap and appeared on other shows, including the Food Network’s Worst Cooks in America. Since his Bachelor rein, Soules has met Donald Trump and become—in his words—an “ambassador for agriculture,” while no doubt capitalizing on his reality show fame in his day job as a land broker.

“I had just finished being on The Bachelor, and before I knew it, we were introduced,” Soules wrote in the trade publication, The Land Report in 2016. “Donald asked me a few questions about my background, and when he gathered that I had a lot of experience in ag investing, he turned to [my current boss] and said, ‘You should hire this guy.’”

His relationship may have failed, but Soules was still “the good guy” and seemed to have as long of a career as he wanted ahead of him, telling Entertainment Tonight last month that he had been asked by ABC to appear on The Bachelor’s sexier spinoff, Bachelor in Paradise.

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“I’ve already been asked, and I don’t know what to do,” Soules said. “I’ve gotten chubby. That’s my main concern.”

It seems he’ll be unlikely to appear now. If he does post bond, Soules will be monitored by the court and must turn in his passport as a condition of his release.