When the contestants of season 4 of Bachelor in Paradise landed in Mexico last week, they were looking forward to three weeks of filming — instead, the cast was put on lockdown just days after arriving.
Everything changed when producers allegedly filmed DeMario Jackson in a sexual encounter with a female contestant who may have been too drunk to consent. While a source tells PEOPLE at least two other contestants saw the event unfold, others did not — and weren’t entirely sure what happened.
Producers shut down the show’s production and sent the contestants home, leading many of them to believe that the show is over for good.
One of the contestants agreed to speak with PEOPLE about the incident, on the condition of anonymity.
On Tuesday, the contestants knew the incident was serious when they were placed on lockdown, a reality TV tactic where the contestants aren’t allowed to speak to each other and are constantly monitored by production.
“We were told to stay in a certain part of the [resort] while they figured out what the hell had happened,” the contestant says. “We knew something bad had happened; there was a dark energy that came around the house. You have to understand that we weren’t even there a week. The game hadn’t even really begun yet.”
“They stopped taping anything, and we were just kind of there, waiting in limbo,” the contestant continues. “We couldn’t talk to each other about what we knew. On Thursday, one of the camera guys told me that they were probably going to shut down production. I didn’t realize that it was that serious until then. I was like, ‘Wait, they’re thinking of canceling the show?’ It hadn’t even crossed my mind that they’d do that.”
According to the contestant, producers broke the bad news the following day. “One of them was crying. She told us that it was over and we’d all be going home.”
As for the future of the season, it seems unlikely that the show could resume production. “[The producer] was like, ‘I don’t think that’s realistic,’” says the contestant. “She said that there was an investigation going on, and that could take days, weeks, or even months. And by that time, we all have lives and jobs and things to go back to, so it just wasn’t going to work out. They told us that we’d be considered for future seasons and opportunities in the franchise, but that this adventure was probably over.”
The contestants are paid a stipend which is contingent on how many episodes they last, usually between $8,000 and $15,000. The source tells PEOPLE that they will all likely get that money, but no prize money.
The result: several angry contestants. “We’re pissed that this whole thing happened,” says the contestant. “They could have stopped this before it got this far.”
“We all feel used,” the contestant says. “We’re pissed off. People had planned their lives around this. Contestants quit their jobs for this. We all had to step away from our real lives for three weeks.”
The contestants are now discussing the incident in private social media groups and comparing notes about what went wrong. “I don’t know everything that happened,” the contestant tells PEOPLE. “Obviously I didn’t suffer like other people are suffering, but still. It just sucks.”