On Wednesday, May 23, the website Reality Steve, known for The Bachelor commentary and spoilers, released a new podcast. In the episode, former Bachelorette Meredith Phillips alleged she was drugged and sexually assaulted while she was filming the show in 2003. (Bustle reached out to ABC and Warner Bros., who declined to comment on the allegations.)
As fans may recall, Phillips was the second Bachelorette in franchise history. In the Reality Steve podcast, Phillips spoke at length about her experiences while filming Season 2 of The Bachelorette. Around the 32-minute mark, Stephen Carbone, who runs the reality TV website, asked, "What was the hardest thing you had to deal with as the Bachelorette?" In response, Phillips began to detail an alleged drugging and sexual assault that took place on set.
The section below includes details about sexual assault allegations that some readers may find triggering.
Phillips claimed that one of The Bachelorette producers hired a female masseuse to give a massage in her bedroom in the Los Angeles-based mansion. The masseuse allegedly gave her a pill. “I just assumed it was an aspirin or something to loosen up my back, or Tylenol, or something. And it definitely wasn’t that, that’s for sure," Phillips told Carbone during the podcast. She continued:
"The last thing I remember was she got naked and she was in the tub with me, and rubbing my back and rubbing areas probably she shouldn’t have. And then I was put in bed. I woke up naked. Don’t remember much... I remember everything until a certain point, and when the pill kicked in, I literally couldn’t even move my body, so I have no idea what the pill was, at all. All I know is that I was told that, ‘This will make you feel better.’”
Phillips claimed she was unable to give consent under the influence of the pill: "I had no control. Zero. I think that was the hardest part for me, that I couldn’t even lift my arms to say no."
She also admitted she considered exiting the show after the alleged drugging and sexual assault. Phillips recalled, "There definitely was a part of me that thought, 'I don't want to be apart of this, that's for sure.' But I'm also the kind of person who finishes what she starts, so there's that. I obviously couldn't end it," seemingly referring to her Bachelorette contract.
Phillips said she did not talk about the alleged incident until an unspecified time later. When Carbone asked if she ever spoke to the masseuse or the producers, Phillips explained:
"I didn't speak of it until later, because I felt weird about it and I felt violated, so I didn't know what to say or how to say it. I mean, how do you bring that up? ... I have kind of held it in for a long time, because in a weird way, I wanted to protect the franchise..."
She finished filming in 2003, and when the season aired in 2004, viewers watched her get engaged to equity-sales researcher Ian McKee at the end of the season. Phillips and McKee split in March 2005, according to People.
In the blog post accompanying Reality Steve's podcast episode, Carbone explained the following to his listeners:
“Meredith isn’t really on social media, so there’s not a way to really reach out to her, but she knows this story might bring some attention. She knows what telling a story like this could do and she’s well aware of the stigma attached to it. But as you’ll hear, she felt it was something she really needed to talk about because it’s stayed with her a long time and very few people have heard her tell it.”
Because she's not publicly active on social media, it's currently unclear if Phillips will speak out further. However, Reality Steve's blog post encourages fans to listen to the full episode before jumping to any conclusions.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit hotline.rainn.org.