A Bravo spokesperson said the network is “committed to maintaining a safe and respectful workplace for cast and crew on our reality shows.”
The Below Deck franchise is once again being buffeted by a sexual misconduct scandal.
According to a new Rolling Stone report, a production member on Below Deck: Sailing Yacht has accused cast member Gary King of trying to force himself on her during the making of the Bravo reality show’s fourth season, which filmed in Italy last year.
Samantha Suarez, a makeup artist who also assisted a talent manager with day-to-day tasks like bringing food and water to cast members, told the magazine that she first met King, the first mate of superyacht Parsifal III, at the hotel in Sardinia that served as a home base of sorts for the show. One day during the season, Suarez said she accompanied an inebriated King back to his hotel room after he filmed interviews for the show.
While cast members were supposed to remain sequestered due to COVID protocols and a desire to preserve authenticity in their interactions, Suarez said King was trying to break isolation to spend time with his castmates, so she attempted to keep him confined to his room. When she attempted to leave to assist other cast members, Suarez said King asked her to stay and told her she should join him in bed. Suarez said that after she left and later returned to deliver snacks and water, she found King in his underwear, and he once again asked her to remain in his room with him.
“I was like, ‘I have to go — I need to go bring other people water and food,’ and he’s like, ‘No, no, please,'” Suarez told Rolling Stone. “So I stepped into the room to set the case of waters down and again, he’s repeating, ‘Don’t leave,’ and I was like, ‘I have to go, I’m not staying.'”
Suarez said King then grabbed her in an attempt to stop her from leaving, prompting her to “kick and elbow him” in order to escape.
Suarez said she immediately contacted an HR representative, who told her that the company would conduct an investigation into the incident. However, Suarez said the HR rep discouraged her from discussing the encounter because “it was becoming water cooler talk” on set. According to Suarez, King was eventually removed from the hotel and instructed to sleep on the boat for the rest of the season.
Two other crew members, who requested to remain anonymous, attested to Rolling Stone that King was “constantly” making women on set uncomfortable, and that “He’s next-level scary with women.” The crew members also said they’d heard Suarez’s account while the season was filming.
King declined to comment to Rolling Stone. After season 4 finished airing last month, he wrote in an Instagram post, “we all know that #belowdecksailing season 4 wasn’t my best, and I know that and will work towards being a better person. With saying that I still had a great time with everyone.”
A Bravo spokesperson said Thursday in a statement provided to EW, “Bravo is committed to maintaining a safe and respectful workplace for cast and crew on our reality shows. We require our third-party production companies to have appropriate workplace policies and trainings in place and a clear process on how to report concerns. The concerns Ms. Suarez raised in July 2022 were investigated at that time and action was taken based on the findings.”
51 Minds Entertainment, the production company behind Below Deck, didn’t immediately respond to EW’s request for comment. A spokesperson told Rolling Stone, “51 Minds is committed to providing an environment in which every member of the casts and crews on our productions feel respected and, most importantly, safe. 51 Minds provides mandatory harassment and sensitivity training for every series it produces at the outset of each new season and lays out a clear process on how and to whom to report any questionable activity.”
The spokesperson added, “With any complaint filed, a timely investigation is launched and, based on the findings, appropriate actions are implemented to ensure the safety of our cast and crew, up to and including termination. With regard to the incident reported by Ms. Suarez involving Mr. King, the case was investigated and reviewed as soon as it was submitted, and production acted accordingly based on the results.”
The Rolling Stone report comes on the heels of two cast members on sister show Below Deck Down Under being fired for inappropriate behavior. As chronicled on a recent episode, bosun Luke Jones was terminated after entering the bed of an unconscious castmate while Jones was naked, and second stewardess Laura Bileskalne was axed after making multiple unwanted advances toward a castmate.