Earlier this month, Bravo’s Below Deck franchise earned praise from viewers for its immediate handling of a sexual misconduct incident on its Australia-based spinoff, Below Deck Down Under. However, a makeup artist for another Below Deck spinoff, Sailing Yacht, is now alleging that the show’s producers ignored an inappropriate encounter she had with cast member Gary King. According to other sources, including some crew members, cited in a new Rolling Stone report, producers routinely covered up King’s alleged sexual misconduct.
Samantha Suarez told the publication that King “tried to force himself on her” during the production of Below Deck Sailing Yacht Season 4, which was filmed in the summer of 2022 in Saradina, Italy. In addition to doing the cast’s hair and makeup, Suarez said she assisted the series’ talent manager, ensuring cast members remained in their hotel rooms and bringing them food and water due to COVID-19 protocols.
The alleged incident with King occurred in July when Suarez had to escort the reality star back to his hotel room after filming his interviews—where she claims producers supplied him with “a substantial amount of alcohol.” King, who’s known for being a womanizer on Sailing Yacht, allegedly begged her to stay in his room and asked her to come into his bed.
Suarez said she eventually left the room but returned to deliver snacks to King, who was only wearing underwear. When she turned toward the door to leave, she claims he “came up behind her, grabbed her, pressed her against his body, and refused to let go of her” while she elbowed and kicked him. When Suarez finally escaped and opened the door, she said he “slammed the door from behind her” before King eventually let go of the door.
Suarez says she reported the encounter to Sailing Yacht’s executive producers Courtland Cox and Vivian Choi, who essentially gave him a slap on the wrist. In addition to contacting Below Deck’s production company 51 Minds Entertainment, she said she also reached out to an HR representative for its parent company, Banijay America, who asked her “not to talk about the incident with other production staffers.”
In response to Suarez’s allegations against King, a spokesperson for 51 Minds told Rolling Stone, in part, “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.”
Similarly, a rep for Bravo told the publication, “The concerns Ms. Suarez raised in July 2022 were investigated at that time and action was taken based on the findings.”
Additionally, Suarez said that when she confronted the producers about how the situation was handled, they claimed they gave her the option to have King fired when she first approached them. King ultimately kept his job, and the two kept their distance from each other. But she said the incident put her into a “depressive state” and that she felt “traumatized” by the alleged assault.
Two other unnamed crew members told Rolling Stone that they repeatedly observed King behaving inappropriately on set, with one person describing him as “next-level scary with women.” Another crew member said they witnessed him repeatedly grab a female cast member’s butt and “touch her inappropriately” despiste her protests.
When they reported the incident to the control room, a producer allegedly told him to stop. Afterward, the crew member says King walked over to a camera operator and “grabbed his genitals.” According to the crew member, both incidents were filmed but never aired.
Suarez also told Rolling Stone about a previous time she experienced sexual harassment while working on Below Deck Season 10. While traveling in a car with some of the cast, buson Ross McHarg made “weird, lewd, sexual, gross comments” toward her. A rep for 51 Minds told Rolling Stone that the production company “initiated an investigation” into Suarez’s claims.
Last month, King and some of his castmates were spotted filming the next season of Sailing Yacht in Ibiza, Spain, raising the question of whether these allegations will affect his appearance in the upcoming season. King is also set to appear at BravoCon in November. For now, it’s uncertain whether this explosive new report will force Bravo to take greater action.