On Thursday, June 21, a male contestant on The Proposal was accused of sexual misconduct. Following the disturbing allegations against contestant Michael J. Friday, who was accused by a Wisconsin woman named Erica Denae Meshke of facilitating a sexual assault, The Proposal has pulled its second episode from the schedule. (Bustle has reached out to Meshke for comment on the allegations.)
In a joint statement to Bustle, ABC and Warner Horizon Productions wrote:
“An allegation has been made against a contestant on next week’s episode of The Proposal. While the accusation was not related to the contestant’s appearance on the program, we take it very seriously. ABC and the producers of The Proposal are pulling the episode while this matter is under review.”
ABC immediately pulled the episode of the dating show after Meshke shared a photo of the male contestants on The Proposal on her personal Facebook page. She wrote that one of the men “was directly responsible for my date rape” and though she didn't name Friday in her allegations, she later shared a photo of Friday from his Instagram in the comment section of her original Facebook post. “This man is the pretty face that is used as a lure to get girls into unsafe situations,” she wrote in a post asking people to boycott The Proposal. Friday has yet to comment publicly on the allegations.
In the post, Meshke wrote that she met Friday on Tinder in early November of 2017 and the two set up a date to meet in a "public place." According to Meshke, she met Friday in a “lobby/entertainment room” located at an apartment complex, but he wasn't alone. In her post, Meshke alleged that he had brought "two other 50-ish year-old men," who Friday allegedly referred to as "friends."
Meshke claimed they poured her a drink, and that her original date, allegedly Friday, then left her alone with the two men. "The original guy never came back, despite me calling and texting. I was told by his friends that he would be back soon," she wrote. "So while I waited, I accepted another drink, which I know now was spiked.”
In the post, Meshke doesn't go into detail of what happened next, but wrote that one of the older men allegedly brought her to an apartment and "the things I endured for the next 5 hours were unspeakable.” She also claimed the man who allegedly assaulted her "threatened" her, telling her "he was very 'powerful' and would 'find me' if I told anyone what he did."
Meshke did not say whether she had filed charges against any of the men involved in her alleged assault, which she wrote was "the most traumatic event in your life." But she stated that she did tell friends of what Friday had allegedly done and “posted a warning about this man anonymously in a Facebook group.” She claims that she met Friday in a bar months after the alleged assault and confronted him. “Once I reminded him of who I was, he acknowledged his part in that evening, and tried to argue with me and justify what he did," she claimed, "but was promptly asked to leave the bar by employees/my friends."
Meshke wrote that she wanted to go public with her allegations against Friday now because of his appearance on The Proposal, a reality dating show from the creator of The Bachelor where men and women look to get engaged. After seeing his face on TV, she wrote that she was encouraged to speak up, stating on Facebook:
“After keeping this buried for nearly eight months, and seeing this man continue to succeed and not be held accountable for his actions, I’ve had enough. I’ve lost sleep, relationships, self esteem [sic], trust and countless other things because of that night. And I’m done keeping it quiet.”
She added, "I’m telling my story for me, and I’m telling my story for them. The most effective way of stopping these predators is by talking about it."
These allegations against Friday come just days after it was reported that current Bachelorette contestant Lincoln Adim was convicted of indecent assault and battery for groping a woman on a cruise two years prior.
In a statement to Bustle, Warner Bros., the studio behind The Bachelor, said that Adim didn't share the allegations with them during the casting process. "No one on The Bachelorette production had any knowledge about the incident or charges when Lincoln Adim was cast, and he himself denied ever having been charged with any sexual misconduct," read the statement.
The studio also stated that they "employ a well-respected and highly experienced third party who has done thousands of background checks consistent with industry standards to do a nationwide background check in this case" and that they are "currently investigating why the report did not contain this information, which we will share when we have it." Bustle reached out to ABC to find out whether The Proposal conducted similar background checks on their contestants, but they had no comment on the question.
In the case of Friday, there were no charges filed, so these allegations would not have appeared in background checks done by the show. And, again, Friday has not been convicted of any crime relating to this alleged incident. However, the news does beg the question of what these reality shows can and should do to make sure their contestants are safe.
Before ABC announced they were pulling the next episode of The Proposal, Meshke tagged the network in a comment, asking them to listen as other women commented on the post with their own allegations against Friday. "ABC Television Network look at the number of women coming forward. My inbox is bursting with testimonials about this creep," she wrote. "What are you going to do about it."
ABC canceling the episode of The Proposal and reviewing the allegations is an important step in the process, and it shows that, at least, those in charge are willing to listen.