Bachelor in Paradise suitor Leo Dottavio is taking a leave of absence from his job as a stuntman at Universal Studios Hollywood’s “WaterWorld” show amid recent sexual harassment allegations brought to light by Bachelor alum Bekah Martinez.
The 31-year-old Los Angeles resident most recently competed for Becca Kufrin’s heart on her season of The Bachelorette, and will appear in the ongoing season of Bachelor in Paradise.
23-year-old Martinez took to Instagram with a number of screenshots collected by fans of Dottavio’s alleged inappropriate behavior with women online.
One of these screenshots included an alleged post of Dottavio commenting on a woman’s profile, “You need my big d—.”
In a statement to USA Today, office manager Gaby Davis of Action Horizons, the production company behind “WaterWorld,” said: “We recently became aware of the situation concerning Mr. Dottavio. 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 initially brushed off the complaints in a cheeky Instagram, telling his followers to stay positive, but did make a more formal statement Friday on the social media platform.
“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.”
And while Dottavio has claimed the screenshots of the messages were Photoshopped, Martinez has stood by her choice to post them, despite the backlash and smear campaign directed against her after she spoke up.
“I started posting the screenshots [of their messages] because to me, it’s not a coincidence that multiple women would be saying similar things about the same person. There’s no way these women happen to be lying about the same thing before seeing what other women are saying,” Martinez told The New York Post last week.
Neither ABC or Warner Bros., the company behind Bachelor in Paradise, has commented publicly on the allegations.