This season of "The Bachelorette" concluded Monday, but dramatic twists continue to emerge.
Last week, "Bachelor" contestant Bekah Martinez called out Leo Dottavio, a contestant from the recent "Bachelorette" season who finished in the top six, regarding accusations of inappropriate sexual behavior toward women. Two days later, Dottavio denied the claims and today his employer confirmed to USA TODAY that he is taking a leave of absence.
"We recently became aware of the situation concerning Mr. Dottavio," said Gaby Davis, an office manager at Action Horizons which presents the Water World show at Universal Studios where Dottavio has long been a performer. "We are allowing him the time he needs to handle the matter privately as the allegations did not arise from conduct in the workplace."
Dottavio, 31, shared a statement Friday on his Instagram story after Martinez shared screenshots on her Instagram story that she claims were of women accusing him of harassment in private messages:
"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 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."
He continued: "Did I do things in college that I would be embarrassed about now? Absolutely. Was I a part of my culture, the times, movies? Yes. I have grown as a person since college. I am not the man I was two years ago, let alone 14 years ago."
Martinez also shared a video in which she claimed Dottavio's lawyer threatened to sue her for defamation and asked that she "remove everything and issue a public apology."
ABC and Warner Bros., the producing studio, declined to comment on the allegations.
Dottavio is slated to appear on "Bachelor in Paradise," a franchise spin-off that features contestants from "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette," later this summer.
He is the latest contestant from this season of "The Bachelorette" to make headlines for issues outside of the show.
Lincoln Adim, a contestant this season who made it to the top nine, was convicted of indecent assault in May, just a week before "The Bachelorette" aired. Adim was charged after an incident involving a woman on a harbor cruise ship in Boston in 2016. Adim is legally required to register as a sex offender.
"The judge ordered him to stay away from the victim and attend three Alcoholics Anonymous meetings per week during those two years," says a statement sent to USA TODAY by Jake Wark, a spokesman for the county's district attorney. "If he complies with the judge’s orders, he will not have to serve out his term, but if he fails to comply with those orders or re-offends, he could be ordered to serve out the year behind bars."
Garrett Yrigoyen, this season's winner and now-fiancee to Bachelorette Becca Kufrin, found himself under fire early in the season after reports emerged that he had liked racist, sexist and transphobic photos on Instagram.
"To those who I have hurt and offended: This is all new to me," Yrigoyen wrote in a statement on a new Instagram account in May. "I went on the Bachelorette for the adventure and possibility of falling in love, not fame. I did not know what to expect once the show aired. I am sorry to those who I offended, and I also take full responsibility for my 'likes' on Instagram that were hurtful and offensive. ... Let my mistakes be a lesson for those who mindlessly double tap images, memes, and videos on any social media content that could be many things including hurtful, degrading, and dehumanizing. I do not want my social media to define who I am, and I will take better are moving forward to support all walks of life."
"The Bachelor" franchise temporarily shut down production last summer while filming "Bachelor in Paradise" after allegations arose of sexual misconduct between two cast members, Corinne Olympios and DeMario Jackson. An investigation by Warner Bros. "found the complaint unsubstantiated" and production resumed.
"Bachelor in Paradise" began its fifth season Tuesday.
Contributing: Carly Mallenbaum