RIO DE JANEIRO — Rio police have confirmed they are investigating an alleged rape, which is said to have taken place on the wildly popular reality TV show Big Brother Brazil.
Reports in the Brazilian press on Tuesday said police officers were heading to TV Globo’s Projac studios in western Rio de Janeiro to interview the alleged victim, a 23-year-old administration student called Monique Amin.
Amin was allegedly sexually assaulted by a fellow contestant, the 31-year-old model Daniel Echaniz, following a party inside the Big Brother house on Saturday morning celebrating the launch of its 12th season.
The alcohol-fuelled party featured a live performance from Grande Rio, one of Rio’s top samba schools, and was reportedly bank-rolled by one of Big Brother Brazil’s major sponsors — the drinks company AmBev which is said to have paid some R$20.6m to have its brand linked to the program.
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The incident, described by local press as a “suspected rape," was captured by TV Globo’s cameras and posted on the internet in the form of a 7-minute video which police are now examining.
The video appears to show Echaniz making advances under a duvet on a motionless, possibly unconscious Amin.
“We already have the video and we will analyze the images. The fact is serious and needs to be investigated,” Antônio Ricardo, the police chief heading the investigation said on Tuesday.
Police launched their investigation on Monday after Brazil’s minister for women’s policies, Iriny Lopes, asked Rio’s public prosecutor to intervene.
Brazilian celebrities including the singer Preta Gil and the actress Deborah Secco called for Echaniz to be expelled from the program and on Sunday Globo executives announced his exit.
In a statement Big Brother Brazil’s presenter, Pedro Bial, said: “The programs directors believe that the contestant’s behavior on the night of the party was seriously inadequate.”
Amin has denied knowledge of a rape. “Sex?” she told fellow contestants on Sunday, one day after the alleged incident. “No. Only if he was a real scumbag and did it while I was sleeping.”
The more cynical commentators have speculated that the whole episode may have been conceived as a publicity stunt, intended to boost wilting viewing figures.
If so, it has backfired badly.
“The audiences have not improved and the reality show’s sponsors are now worried about the damage inflicted to their brands after the possible crime was revealed – under the duvet,” according to the Correio do Brasil news website.
“If the rape is confirmed and this becomes a criminal case, it will be very hard to keep the show on the air with the support of its current sponsors,” one Globo insider told the website. “The damage to their brands will be incalculable.”
Here's a video on the TV show rape investigation: