This past May, former “Bachelor” contestant Ashley Spivey was getting ready to revel in the typical ridiculousness of a new season of ABC’s “The Bachelorette,” starring Becca Kufrin, but things took a turn when someone sent her images of Instagram posts that were “liked” by contestant Garrett Yrigoyen. The posts mocked feminists; joked about throwing an immigrant child over the border; made fun of transgender people; and claimed that Parkland, Fla., school shooting survivor David Hogg was a crisis actor.
After confirming with friends who follow Yrigoyen that he had, in fact, “liked” those posts, Spivey posted the images on Twitter. “Can we do a better job of social media deep dives on the dudes that try out for #thebachelorette,” she wrote. A few weeks later, Spivey helped “Bachelor” blogger Reality Steve confirm a previously unreported fact that contestant Lincoln Adim had been recently convicted on charges of indecent assault and battery.
For the second time in a month, Spivey’s discoveries blew up online — and threatened to overshadow what was happening on the show. Contestants do not typically address off-camera drama while the season is airing, but Yrigoyen released an apology for “mindlessly tapping” on “hurtful, degrading, and dehumanizing” posts. (As a result of this unusual step, many have surmised that Yrigoyen — already a front-runner — must make it quite far this season.) As for Adim, production company Warner Bros. said it had launched an investigation into why the “well-respected and highly experienced” third-party company that does their background checks did not include information about the charges against Adim, which were filed two years ago in Suffolk County, Mass.
So, how did a former “Bachelor” contestant not only become a de facto investigative journalist, but also nearly upend one of the country’s most popular television shows?
Spivey, a 33-year-old nanny and North Carolina native who lives in New York, said in a phone interview that she got her first tip because she’s a moderator on a “Bachelor” subreddit. She had heard rumblings that Yrigoyen had some personal views “that didn’t necessarily match up to Becca’s,” who is a Hillary Clinton supporter. Then Spivey received the private message with the Instagram images. Although she has received cruel tweets from people accusing her of going after Yrigoyen because she is a Democrat, she emphasizes that political party is not the issue with the posts he liked.
“I just feel like that’s not even a conservative view, and it’s not a Republican view. It’s a hateful view,” Spivey said. “I think that Becca doesn’t seem to be the type of person who would agree with those, and I don’t see how she could look past them or excuse them.”
Spivey said she did not expect the information she had unearthed to receive such widespread reaction. Last year, someone noticed racist tweets from “Bachelorette” contestant Lee Garrett, who was competing on the season with the franchise’s first black star, Rachel Lindsay. Even though it was discussed in-depth on the “Men Tell All” episode, Spivey felt “people just glazed over it a little bit.”
So she was surprised when Yrigoyen’s Instagram likes sparked such a controversy online. “I really wasn’t expecting it to have an impact on this season,” she said. “But I am glad that people have been more upset about it. I only wish that production was making more of an effort to edit Lincoln out of this.” After all, she says, ABC recently pulled an episode of “The Proposal” after one of its contestants was accused of facilitating a woman’s date rape. Adim, on the other hand, has been convicted of assault (he was sentenced to one year in a house of correction, with that term suspended for a two-year probationary period), and he is still appearing on the show. “It seems like it would be really easy to just edit him out,” Spivey says.
Jake Wark, a spokesman for the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, has said in statements to the media that Adim was expected to register as a sex offender. The court has impounded Adim’s police report to protect the victim’s and witnesses’ privacy, Wark noted, so how did Spivey confirm the arrest and conviction?
It started with a tip. Spivey said that Reality Steve, a blogger who publishes spoilers about Bachelor Nation shows, received an email from a person who said that they had been in the South Boston courthouse and that Steve should look more closely into Adim. Spivey called the courthouse, and when they said could not share the information over the phone, Spivey sent her sister-in-law, who lives in Boston, to go to there and photocopy all the documents she could. Once Spivey confirmed that Adim had been arrested in 2016 and convicted in late May, Reality Steve published and other media outlets followed.
Spivey said she finds it hard to believe that the company doing background checks for Warner Bros. didn’t find anything objectionable in their screening of Adim, or if they did, didn’t find it reason enough to disqualify him. “When we were going through our background checks, they asked me about a speeding ticket,” she recalls of the intense screening she went through before competing on Brad Womack’s 2011 season of “The Bachelor.”
“There are so many things with this season that seem to be taking them by surprise, and that worries me,” Spivey says. “I think in today’s climate, you should really be paying attention to not only people who have sex offenses in their background, but you should be trying to make the best possible match for the show.”