A contestant on the ABC reality series “The Bachelorette” was convicted last month in connection with a 2016 groping episode, putting the show’s vetting process under scrutiny for the second time this season.
The contestant, Lincoln Adim, 26, pleaded guilty in May to indecent assault and battery for groping a woman on a harbor cruise in Boston in May 2016, according to Jake Wark, a spokesman for the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts. The conviction, on May 21, came a week before the premiere of the current season of “The Bachelorette,” a reality television dating and marriage show. The third episode aired this week, and Mr. Adim remains in the running for the hand of Becca Kufrin, this season’s bachelorette.
The episodes are filmed weeks or months in advance, but the fact that court records indicate Mr. Adim was charged in 2016 raises questions about whether the show knew, or should have known, of his history before casting him.
In a statement Wednesday evening, Warner Bros., which produces the show, said no one in the production had any prior knowledge of the incident, and that when Mr. Adim was cast, he denied ever having been engaged in or charged with sexual misconduct. The statement also said that a “well-respected and highly experienced” third party entrusted with the show’s background checks made no mention of the incident, and that the omission was being investigated.
Questions about the show’s vetting process have surfaced before, most recently on May 28, with the news that another contestant, Garrett Yrigoyen, had apparently liked Instagram posts mocking undocumented immigrants, transgender people and David Hogg, a survivor of the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting, on Instagram. Mr. Yrigoyen later apologized on Instagram. He remains a contestant as of the third episode.
In the 2017 season of the show, which featured its first African-American bachelorette, a contestant was found to have written racially charged and sexist comments on Twitter; in response, an ABC executive acknowledged that the process needed to be beefed up, according to The Wrap.
After his guilty plea, Mr. Adim was given a suspended sentence of a year in prison. If he successfully completes a two-year probationary period, in which he is to steer clear of the victim and attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, he will not be incarcerated.
“If he complies with the judge’s orders, he will not have to serve out his term,” a statement from the district attorney’s office said, “but if he fails to comply with those orders or re-offends, he could be ordered to serve out the year behind bars. By law, he is expected to register as a sex offender.”
Mr. Adim’s arrest and conviction came to light on Wednesday through Reality Steve, a website devoted to reality television. Efforts to reach Mr. Adim were not successful on Wednesday and his lawyer did not respond to a message seeking comment.
According to the show’s website, Mr. Adim is originally from Nigeria, was named for Abraham Lincoln, lived in Boston, attended the University of Kentucky and now lives in Los Angeles. His LinkedIn page says he is an account executive for the technology company Oracle.
“The Bachelorette” is now in its 14th season and is bringing in an average of just over 5.6 million viewers a week, according to Nielsen. That is down slightly from last season’s average of 5.9 million viewers, but enough to make “The Bachelorette” the most popular broadcast show on each of the past three Monday nights.
Doris Burke contributed research.