If you’re as deep into the world of the Bachelor franchise as we are, it’s safe to say that you’re *probably* aware of the social media war currently going on between fan favourite—and queen of #sorrynotsorry—Bekah Martinez and season 14 Bachelorette contestant Leo Dottavio.
On Wednesday, Bekah accused Leo of sexually harassing several women, posting a series of Instagram stories (now saved as a highlight called “Sue Me”), with DMs sent to Bekah from people who allege the actor and stuntman—who Becca Kufrin sent home on the July 9 episode of The Bachelorette, and who is slated to appear on the upcoming season of Bachelor in Paradise—made lewd comments and unwanted advances towards women during his college days.
“…I went to college with Leo and did many theatre productions with him,” one woman said via DMs to Bekah. “I myself have several disgusting stories of him being more than creepy towards women and several other people have come to me over the years with their own stories, some of them were barely legal when it happened.”
“He constantly pursued my friend, who made it very clear she was in a committed relationship,” wrote another. “‘[He] sent her multiple unwanted dick pics.”
An additional woman told Bekah she knew about similar “uncomfortable” experiences with Leo in college; Bekah also shared a screenshot of a lewd Instagram comment allegedly made by Leo (albeit some 260+ weeks ago): “You need my big dick.”
According to Leo’s lawyers, the “big dick” IG screenshot is a fake. In a statement to FLARE, Glenn Dickson of LightGabler Law Firm wrote: “This story originated in late May, when an anonymous person popped up with a supposed screenshot of an Instagram post by Mr. Dottavio. The story was run in Life & Style…until Mr.Dottavio demanded that it be removed, because the screen shot was fabricated. If you search Ms. Martinez’ materials, you will see that the only actual evidence is the same fraudulent screen shot that surfaced in May. Everything else in her content is innuendo and suggestion. She is seeking publicity, and piggy-backing on a discredited, photoshopped image.”
And as for Leo’s thoughts on the situation? In a statement to FLARE, Leo said: “There have been some recent stories about me that have garnered attention and I want to address them. I want to start by saying no one has ever directly accused me of sexual harassment. No one has ever come to me in any way and told me I made them feel uncomfortable. However, I am not a perfect person nor have I ever claimed to be. Did I do things in college that I would be embarrassed about now? Absolutely. Was it a part of my culture, the times, movies? Yes.” But, he continues, “I have grown as a person since college. I am not the man I was two years ago let alone 14 years ago. It’s important for women to speak out if they felt uncomfortable or harassed. I support that. If there was anyone I made feel uncomfortable why not come to me? I would love an opportunity to right my wrongs and speak to any woman that wants to tell me how and when I made them feel uncomfortable. I want to take this as an opportunity to better myself and the treatment of women in my life. ”
For her part, Bekah—who revealed in a later Instagram video that she’d been contacted by Leo’s lawyers with threats to sue for “defamation of character”—has addressed allegations of attention seeking, posting a message on Instagram denying that she’s doing this to “start drama,” “get attention,” or “stay relevant.”
“Since when is exposing someone’s history of sexual harassment worse than the harassment itself?” she wrote in response to comments that she was bullying Leo. “You know who should ‘grow up’? Men who continually force themselves upon uninterested women.”
It’s obvious that Bekah is attempting to protect other women—by whatever means necessary—from someone she genuinely believes to be a serial harasser, but if we’ve learned anything over the past year, it’s that doing so can be complicated.