‘Are You the One?’ Contestant Gianna Hammer Claims Production ‘Drugged’ Her and Covered Up Sexual Assault

·20 min read
Courtesy Gianna Hammer
Courtesy Gianna Hammer

When Gianna Hammer was cast in MTV’s Are You the One?, she felt she couldn’t possibly pass up the opportunity to be a part of the hit reality television competition. After all, what single 21-year-old would turn down spending a few weeks filming in the Dominican Republic, a chance to win $45,000 and getting to flirt with 11 attractive young men, with the very likely chance of flying back to the U.S. with a boyfriend in tow?

But Hammer, now 25, has been reluctant to talk about her experience, telling The Daily Beast that while shooting Season 5 of the show in the fall of 2016, she was “drugged” by production and “sexually assaulted” by a fellow cast member, whose name she’s asked The Daily Beast to withhold.

And instead of promptly kicking the contestant off the show after several other cast members had to physically pull Hammer from the bed, she says producers for Lighthearted Entertainment persuaded Hammer to allow the man to stay, their solution being for him to sleep on the couch and cut them both off from drinking alcohol for the rest of filming.

When the show wrapped, Hammer says she was never contacted by anyone from production or MTV about the assault, leaving her feeling “disrespected.”

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“I guess [I] really thought about it and was like, ‘Wow, that was really fucked up,’” Hammer says. “They should have never left me in an unsafe position. I’m definitely a changed person after it all.”

An MTV spokesperson told The Daily Beast in a statement, “We take these issues very seriously and have paused production/casting to conduct an independent investigation into the allegations, the third party production company and further review our internal safety protocols.”

Lighthearted Entertainment, which currently has a casting call for a new season on its site, said it welcomes an investigation and “will cooperate with full transparency.” “We are confident that any review will confirm the safety procotols [sic] that we have long had in place on the sets of Are You The One?,” the statement reads in part. “We deny the allegations made by the former contestant; throughout the eight seasons of the show, no contestant has reported an incident of sexual assault to Lighthearted.”

MTV has now pulled this season from streaming platforms.

Hammer has hinted at her story over the past five years, slowly becoming more emboldened as time went on. She left comments on Reddit fan threads and fired off some tweets alluding to her assault, but Hammer says she’s finally ready to come forward about what happened, first by making a TikTok video claiming that she had been “drugged” and “sexually assaulted,” and then by speaking with The Daily Beast.

“I spent all these years not saying anything while it aired and while it was still fresh in everyone’s minds because I was scared,” Hammer offers. “I might as well just come out with it and share my experience. [It’s] lifted a lot off my shoulders. I felt like it’s not something that I have to carry on my back in secret or feel ashamed that it happened.” 

Hammer was cast on the reality-competition show while she was living in Los Angeles, thanks to an in from her acting manager. Normally laid-back, Hammer explains that she was initially overwhelmed after being flown to Cabarete in the Dominican Republic and living in a house full of big personalities.

A few months before joining the show, Hammer says she was put on a low dosage of the antidepressant and anti-anxiety medication Zoloft, and warned by her doctor to never take the pills while drinking or the effects of alcohol would be heightened. Hammer says she normally took it right before bed at night and never experienced any blackouts from it.

But during filming, she claims the medication was administered to her first thing in the morning by a local medic. “Their logic was that I wasn’t on too much of it,” Hammer recalls. “So, if I took it early in the morning, it wouldn’t really affect me later in the night.”

The only season of AYTO filmed outside of the U.S., the cast members of Season 5 were supplied with copious amounts of booze, often partying their way through each night. It was during one drunken themed party a little more than halfway through filming that Hammer says she got extremely drunk and landed in a verbal spat with one of the male cast members.

“That’s when the producers took me away into our confessional room,” Hammer remembers, noting that some other cast members were brought along with her. “They had walked back into the confessional room with me and that was when the three producers said that I needed to calm down and that they were going to give me one of my medications. This part of the night is something I remember more clearly than anything else.”

“I know that my castmates said that I kept telling them, ‘I’m not supposed to do this when I’m drinking. I’m not supposed to do this when I’m drinking.’ They still said it was OK, they said it wasn’t a high enough dosage or something. So, I took it.”

That’s one of the last things Hammer says she can remember. When she awoke the next morning, she immediately sensed something was off.

“I remember waking up and I didn’t feel super bad that morning, which really confused me because I woke up and I knew I couldn’t remember really anything,” she says. “I walked into the kitchen, there was no cameraman, and [the producers] immediately were like, ‘Gianna, we need you outside.’”

According to Hammer, she was walked over to the media tent where production kept equipment, and she was sat down at a table with three of the main producers.

“I was super confused, super nervous,” Hammer recalls. “I remember being shaky and not knowing what had gone on or if I was in trouble. That’s when they asked me if I remember anything that happened last night. I said no. They kind of start going over what had happened… and that’s when I started really thinking and seeing some type of flashes.”

Hammer says she recalled that she was given a pill by producers, which she claims they initially denied but later admitted they administered to try to calm her down. “They kind of like downplayed everything else,” Hammer says.

She says she was told that she had gotten into bed with a male cast member and other contestants eventually heard her saying “no” to the co-star. They stressed that “nothing happened” but because Hammer was uncomfortable, her other castmates pulled her out of the bed.

“I kind of just sat there,” Hammer says. “I was really just shaking. I didn’t know how to react to that situation. Immediately after that, I think we had a pause, and then their next question was, ‘Do you want him kicked out, kicked off the show?’”

“I sat there, not even answering right away. I was staring at them, like, you just told me that this happened and I don’t remember it, now you want me to make this decision?”

In a state of shock, Hammer says she asked the producers what they thought should happen. “They made this comment, saying, ‘He flew all the way out here, we did all this testing for him, he has a perfect match in this house, it would be a lot to send him back, he’d have to spend the rest of the time in a hotel by himself,’” she recalls.

Not knowing what to do, Hammer says she was unsure how to answer, explaining how she couldn’t even remember the incident and didn’t want to be the reason he was kicked off the show. Producers, she says, took that as a sign that Hammer was okay with him staying, telling her they would kick him out of the main bedroom that all cast members slept in and would place him elsewhere in the house.

They also cut off booze for Hammer and the male castmate, claiming they couldn’t handle their liquor, which Hammer described as a punishment. “That was pretty much all that happened with that,” Hammer says.

She alleges that she was then given paperwork to sign that stipulated that she couldn’t talk about the incident during filming and, in return, the footage from that night would never be shown. “I still was shaking sitting there. I signed it and went back into the house,” she shares. “That was really the last we talked about it.”

Hammer claims that in addition, other cast members who witnessed what happened were also pulled aside by producers and told they were prohibited from talking about that night.

Lighthearted Entertainment denied that Hammer was made to sign an NDA in regard to the incident.

Although Hammer wasn’t supposed to discuss what happened, she says she was able to piece together some fragments of the night from some of her other cast members, learning producers hadn’t been entirely honest about what happened.

The Daily Beast spoke with five other cast members on the record who all confirmed parts of Hammer’s story.

Hayden Weaver and Tyranny Todd say they were aware that Hammer was given a double dose of her medication, with Weaver witnessing production giving her the pill to take, even though she had been drinking.

Todd described Hammer as “in and out of consciousness” after taking the medicine, adding that she “was drunk as hell, you can literally see her barely just getting it together.”

According to their accounts, Hammer was brought into the main bedroom where other cast members were up and talking and was told to go to sleep and stop drinking. At some point, Hammer got up and got into bed with the male cast member.

“We were arguing a little bit and then he made moves on me,” Hammer says she was told. “I don’t know how long it was happening for but [another male cast member] heard me saying ‘no’ to him and he hopped off the bed and said, ‘Get off of her.’ And [other cast members] kind of pulled me out of the bed.”

Todd claims she was one of the castmates in the room, and that she heard Hammer trying to drunkenly ward off the male castmate’s advances. “She’s telling him, ‘OK, stop, ha-ha.’”

But at one point, she looked over and saw him on top of Hammer.

“I’m just like, what the fuck?” Todd recalls. “We went over there to try to get him off of her because we were like, ‘This is weird.’ I remember just always being really, really mad because we knew that Gianna was taken advantage of. I can remember it clear as day, he was on top of her and to turn around, like, ‘What the fuck? This is not cool.’”

Weaver also remembers the night very vividly, having allegedly been in the same room when Hammer was given her medicine. Although no longer together, Weaver and Hammer dated for around two years after the show and share a son together. He says he’s never seen Hammer in as bad a state as she was after she took the pill.

“There was never a moment where she had been in that messed up of a state where she literally was sitting there eyes wide open but not acknowledging anyone, just kind of staring off into space,” he says. “Basically, being unconscious with her eyes open.”

Weaver says he saw Hammer going into the bedroom to go lay down for the rest of the night, so he went outside, but still had a clear view of the bedroom through the window.

“I remember at one point looking at the room and there was a camera pointed where Gianna was laying,” he says. “I couldn’t see what exactly they were filming, I just assumed they were getting some shots of people sleeping that they can edit into stuff for the show. I came to realize later that [the male cast member] was basically starting to touch her and they were filming it as if it was like a hookup.”

Another male cast member describes Hammer’s eyes as being “extremely dilated” when he saw her that night. “You're under surveillance 24/7 on the show,” he explains. “So with them knowing how wasted she was, they should have obviously stepped in. That's their responsibility.”

Both Weaver and Todd said cast members who were in the room were pulled aside after that night and instructed to not talk about what happened. Todd said she was explicitly told if they talked about the incident, they would take money from her stipend.

The Season 5 cast of MTV's Are you the One? MTV
The Season 5 cast of MTV's Are you the One? MTV

After castmates pulled Hammer from the bed, they say they asked for help from producers, who finally stepped in. Hammer says another cast member told her that he checked her vitals but when a flashlight was shined into her eyes, she wasn’t following the light.

The Daily Beast confirmed with that cast member he checked her vitals and that Hammer’s heart was pounding and that her eyes were extremely dilated.

Now knowing the full story, Hammer says she felt awkward for the rest of filming. She says she had a brief conversation with the male cast member, who claimed he had drunk a lot that night and didn’t remember much either.

Her feelings toward the cast member are complex. “I didn’t know how to feel about it and there’s still a part of me that I still don’t know how to feel about it,” Hammer explains. “I do have anger for him, but I guess I just won’t ever feel like he had a malicious intention. I don’t think this was something he planned to do.”

All cast members that The Daily Beast spoke to say they believe the male cast member was also very drunk, although they are not necessarily excusing his behavior. But they say they place most of the blame on the production company for not intervening in the first place.

Hammer says she didn’t feel unsafe in the environment, even with the male castmate in the house, but that it was uncomfortable for the rest of filming. As a result, she grew even closer with Weaver despite being a “no match,” meaning they weren’t supposed to be coupled up.

“The rest of that show was really downhill for me,” Hammer says. “Hayden ended up matching with Carolina and leaving our house and going into the honeymoon suite. I wasn’t allowed to drink so I had to sit there sober while everybody else was drinking. I was super sad because after that night was just another reason me and Hayden had really bonded and connected because he was definitely my safety rock at that point.”

Hammer says she became depressed, and even stopped wearing makeup. “The producer would come up to me and say, ‘Gianna you’re going to really regret not wearing makeup.’ She said, ‘Do your hair and makeup… when this airs, you’re going to really regret that you didn’t.’”

Hammer was on autopilot for the rest of filming. The cast members ended up winning no money, unable to get 11 perfect matches—the only season that failed to win in the show’s history. But shortly before the season aired in January 2017, Hammer and Weaver, who had grown closer since wrapping the show and started dating, began talking about that night. “We kind of were pissed off,” she says.

Weaver says he ended up emailing their MTV representative Lauren Zins, who is currently Vice President of Talent and Casting at MTV, alerting her to Hammer’s assault and questioning if Lighthearted Entertainment had ever flagged it to MTV, ultimately declaring that they didn’t want anything to do with the show.

Hammer claims that they even passed on some opportunities to do promotion for the show, but by the time the reunion rolled around, MTV was still pushing for them to attend, as both Hammer and Weaver had emerged as fan favorites.

In an email correspondence seen by The Daily Beast, Weaver informed Zins why they didn’t want to participate in the reunion, explicitly referring to the assault and the production company not interfering.

“This is personal for us,” he wrote. “Not one apology, ever. They just wanted us to forget it ever happened. And that’s now what we are trying to do. I am speaking up because Gianna is too scared and ashamed about the situation to talk in depth. Not one apology, ever. So, between those incidents and the further drama we are dealing with this cast, we just cannot do this.”

In response, Zins replied with what Hammer describes as a “nasty email” back.

“I am not a magician, I can’t erase the past,” she wrote in an email read by The Daily Beast. “What I can do (and what I’ve done already) is make the higher ups at MTV aware of the situation and put in place a call to action to make sure these serious issues do not happen again. That said, after you and Gianna had mapped out everything that had happened, you assured me that you would participate. I’m past the point of hashing this out. Unless there are new details, I should be made privy to, this doesn’t affect the reunion or the fact that you’re now going back on your word. You may feel that this reunion is a reminder of all the negative experiences, but I’m more of a glass half full person who would take the opportunity to remember that if it weren’t for this show, you never would have met Gianna.”

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“I feel terribly about the unfortunate things that happened to you both, but as I said earlier, I can’t undo those things,” she added. “All I can do is try my best to make future experiences better. But if you’re unwilling to participate, then that’s the end of it.”

Feeling pressured, Hammer and Weaver both attended the reunion, which aired in March 2017. The following month, Hammer also participated in a special called “Beyond the Boom Boom Room,” where current and former cast members react and provide commentary to previously unseen footage of fights and hookups.

When a contestant from the previous season returned from filming, he described some footage that he had seen, which made Hammer’s heart drop.

“He goes, ‘G, they showed me some wild footage of you.’ I felt all the blood drop from my face. I was like, ‘What?’ He was describing something I don’t even remember happening. I just remember I started shaking. I immediately knew it was from that night... because he even said, ‘You were trashed, you were like a whole different person.’”

Hammer demanded to be taken to where they were filming the interviews and pushed to be shown the footage that the other contestant had seen. “I signed paperwork so that none of that would ever be aired,” Hammer says. “They promised me that no one would ever see that footage.”

“I said, ‘Show me the footage that you showed [him] because I’ve never seen it. I don’t remember what happened. I signed an NDA promising me that no one would ever see that.’ They said that they couldn’t show me, they said, ‘Oh, we were unaware that this footage wasn’t allowed to be shown, so we won’t show you.’”

Weaver confirms that he had also heard about the footage being shown to another contestant from the show. “That pissed us off even more,” he says, but explains that it was a different production company producing the new segment. “That kind of solidified how much [Lighthearted Entertainment] weren’t that concerned with the situation. Is that footage sitting there? It shows no effort to really investigate what happened.”

That was the last time Hammer says she was involved with MTV.

“I was always too afraid to say anything on social media because I had signed those papers. I was still really, really scared about that. I guess around 2019 is when I started getting little Twitter fingers, I guess. I would make comments here and there.”

Hammer says it was actually Bachelor contestant Corinne Olympios who inspired her to be bolder after she was vocal about being sexually assaulted on Bachelor in Paradise in the summer of 2017, but after witnessing how ABC handled the situation, she was scared to speak out.

“Her story was so similar to mine,” Hammer says. “She was super drunk and blacked out and she was sexually assaulted, and production filmed it all. No one pulled her out. No one helped her. No one stopped the situation. But ABC shut her down, she was treated so badly.”

But still Hammer left little clues on social media, leading the Vice President of Investigations & Employee Relations for Viacom to reach out to her in June of 2020.

“Basically, she said she had seen some things that were floating around and that it had been brought to [her] attention that there was a possible incident that happened. She was like, ‘We don’t want anything like this to go unnoticed or downplayed.’ We ended up talking on the phone for two hours,” Hammer alleges.

Hammer says the VP said she would open up an investigation and speak with Lighthearted Entertainment. The back and forth went on for the next few months until December of 2020, when everything came to a close.

Gianna Hammer and Hayden Parker of MTV's Are You the One? Twitter
Gianna Hammer and Hayden Parker of MTV's Are You the One? Twitter

“I guess the outcome that we got was that the production company admitted that there was an incident and admitted to the pills,” Hammer says. “They said that a situation happened in a hot tub, which didn’t happen, we never even had a hot tub.”

She claims she was also told that the male cast member would not work with the network again. The Daily Beast understands that MTV had two internal reviews about Hammer’s claims, the latest of which was February 2021.

To say the end result of the investigation was a disappointment for Hammer would be an understatement. “I was like, ‘Man, we had this whole long thing, bringing up all of these feelings and for nothing,’” Hammer says. “It really just opened up old scars and old wounds. I was just like, ‘Damn.’ I spent all these years not saying anything while it aired and while it was still fresh in everyone’s minds, because I was scared. I guess they really don’t care that much.”

Hammer stressed that she’s not looking for much, just acknowledgement of what happened to her and an apology from Lighthearted Entertainment and MTV.

“I’m definitely a changed person after it all,” she says. “I was a non-confrontational person and now I am very confrontational. If something is wrong, or if I feel something needs to be said, I say it.”

Hammer hopes that by speaking out she’ll make other young people aware of the risks of going into a reality-TV setting, as well as highlight the lack of accountability from production companies.

“At the end of the day, I would hope that anybody who is interested in doing reality TV could hear this and just know that it’s important to be able to stick up for yourself.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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