DeMario Jackson is opening up about the sex scandal that caused a major media frenzy.
On Tuesday’s episode of Bachelor in Paradise, the reality star sat down with Chris Harrison to discuss how the scandal affected him, his family, and his life – both personally and professionally.
“It was difficult because I know who I am,” Jackson told the longtime host. “I know I’m not that monster that they’re trying to portray on TV. Like Michelle Obama said, ‘When they go low, you go high.’ It was hard to go high. I had to do it because I train and mentor children and I can’t tell them to be something that I’m not. That’s what kept me going – and great family, friends, school teachers, people at the gym … it was just crazy to see the response from them. My castmates – Alexis, Raven, I think I FaceTimed Taylor every single day. There was so much love. I was extremely humbled.”
Olympios and Jackson both subsequently retained legal counsel and released statements in the days following the production shut down by Warner Bros. to investigate the “misconduct” and all of the contestants were sent home.
“I am a victim and have spent the last week trying to make sense of what happened on June 4. Although I have little memory of that night, something bad obviously took place, which I understand is why production on the show has now been suspended and a producer on the show has filed a complaint against the production,” Olympios said in a statement to PEOPLE via her rep.
Jackson said in his own statement: “It’s unfortunate that my character and family name has been assassinated this past week with false claims and malicious allegations. I will be taking swift and appropriate legal action until my name is cleared and, per the advice of legal counsel, will be seeking all available remedies entitled to me under the laws.”
While Jackson dealt with his own issues, the scandal had his friends and family in turmoil as well.
“I love my Mom more than anything in this world and seeing her cry every single day, it was difficult,” he said. “I’m her everything – best friends. It was difficult. I had to make her deactivate everything. She was going to war defending me. It sucked.”
The contestant previously told Entertainment Tonight that he’s “been through hell” since Warner Bros. halted production and conducted an internal investigation, which was later cleared after they deemed nothing improper had occurred. Jackson now feels he’s finally been “vindicated” after the BiP premiere aired.
“I feel like they rolled enough of the tape,” Jackson told ET. “You can’t show too much, because that’s gonna disrespect Corinne and I, and I just feel like it wouldn’t be the best or the classiest thing to do. But, they showed enough.”
He added: “The public, they need to see something. I think they just needed to see she’s lucid. I’m lucid. We’re swimming around. We’re having fun. We’re friends. It wasn’t like I’m some predator who was at the bar waiting for the girl to get extremely drunk, then I’m like, ‘Oops! Let me pounce on her.’ No, it was very mutual and, in fact, she was a little bit of the aggressor in it, and I love how they painted the picture and the story of us actually talking, mingling, getting to know each other.”
Though Jackson hasn’t had the chance to speak to Olympios since production was suspended, he admitted he felt for her.
“I wish we could’ve spoke,” he said. “I felt bad for her because slut-shamed. I love my mother and the women in my family more than anything in this world and it just hurt me just knowing that she was probably going through the same thing that I was, but a little bit more aggressive and intense. I wanted to reach out and just be like look I’m here if you want to chat.’”
And while Jackson took an emotional hit, he seems to be putting the scandal behind him.
“I’m still going to be me,” said Jackson. “I’m working very hard on just building back up my spirits. This summer took a lot out of me. I’m not going to let this get me down. I’m never going to stoop down and I’m never going to be something they want me to be. I’m going to be who I am and that’s my whistleblowing, crazy, fun-loving self.”
Bachelor in Paradise airs Mondays and Tuesdays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.