Former Bachelor Ben Higgins is speaking out about the halt in production of Bachelor in Paradise. The ABC spinoff is investigating internal allegations of misconduct on set, production company Warner Bros confirmed in a statement Sunday.
The lead of season 20 of the flagship show talked with former Bachelor and Bachelor in Paradise contestant Ashley Iaconetti Tuesday on their podcast The Ben and Ashley I Almost Famous Podcast.
"People assume things about the show," said Higgins, who also appeared on Season 11 of The Bachelorette. "They assume situations are set-up. They assume people are put/forced into different scenarios."
"They assume that we are forced to drink all the time," Iaconetti interjected, which both hosts insist was "never" a part of their experiences.
"I was never forced into anything," Lauren Bushnell's former fiancé stated. "I was talked through as a friend in situations. If I was confused, they would sit with me and allow me to speak my mind and help me process. And yes, there is producing that is done. It's a show. There are situations that happen that they need to get something out of it, but it's never a forced situation. They don't write a storyline before the season starts."
In a statement issued to USA TODAY by SVP of communications Paul McGuire, Warner Bros. confirmed it was "aware of allegations of misconduct" and is "conducting a thorough investigation of these allegations."
Host Chris Harrison also issued a statement Tuesday. "There are a lot of competing details in the various press accounts of the incident," he said. "And there’s a lot of misinformation out there too. We urge everyone to be patient until the investigation is complete."
During his podcast, Higgins encouraged listeners to understand that crew members can "make mistakes."
"They're not perfect," he asserted. "They're not gonna be perfect at their job, and the one thing that comes out of this whole scenario is did somebody make a mistake? Did a producer make a mistake? (Were) things taken too far? I don't know, but if it did, you have to understand that they were just trying to portray a storyline that was existing in front of them." Iaconetti agreed.
Higgins added that as he and his hosting partner understood it, "when production was paused the production of the show was kind of in freak out mode."
"Nobody knew what to do or how to handle this, and I think as we continue to get more information, it'll be interesting to see how the franchise handles this," he continued, "because either way, however, this plays out... from this point forward, if the worst accusations that are being made are true, or if maybe all of the rumors being spread aren't true, this will have a ripple effect on the franchise. We might not foresee it in the near future, but the show will be affected."