Gabriela Barragán recently watched the Below Deck Down Under episode that chronicled Luke Jones and Laura Bileskalne’s firings — and was shocked by their behavior.
“My jaw was on the floor. I wish Bravo put a trigger warning at the beginning of the episode,” the Below Deck Sailing Yacht alum, 34, exclusively told Us Weekly on Friday, August 11. “I’m really impressed by producers stepping in [and] the decision to air it as it happened. And Aesha [Scott] and Captain Jason [Chambers] were amazing.”
Gabriela added: “It’s the perfect example of what would happen in a real setting on a yacht on or off the show. Sexual assault in the maritime industry happens all the time.”
During the Monday, August 7, episode of Below Deck Down Under, Luke, 35, climbed naked into passed-out colleague Margot Sisson’s bed when the boat’s power went out. Producers immediately stepped in after Luke tried to make a move on Margot before Jason, 50, sent him to a hotel. The ship’s captain fired Luke the next day.
Laura, 31, subsequently defended Luke’s actions, which drew criticism from Aesha, 31. The chief stew then told Jason that Laura lacked boundaries with fellow costar Adam Kodra. Adam, 34, confirmed that he felt uncomfortable around Laura, and Jason fired her as well. (Laura has since issued a public apology to both Margot and Adam.)
“It’s hard to feel safe in some environments because of hierarchy. Sometimes people in high ranking positions … there are times when you can be sexually harassed by a superior and there’s no one to go to because of the chain of command and it’s awful,” Gabriela — who appeared on Below Deck Sailing Yacht season 3 — told Us. “And Aesha has had experience, and she could see the red flags and pick up on behavior earlier in the night. I think she had a bad feeling and it seemed she followed her instincts and did the right thing swiftly.”
Gabriela also praised how quickly Jason and the producers stepped in to foster a safe working environment. “There’s zero tolerance and if people are uncomfortable in such small living quarters [where] you don’t feel safe, it needs to be taken care of immediately,” she added. “It doesn’t always happen. … I’m happy that Margot is OK and that most of the crew on board were supportive.”
Gabriela noted that she found the way Laura spoke to Margot about the incident to be “very shocking,” insensitive and disrespectful. “Personally, I thought it was scary because she was shaming the victim to her face when no one else was around,” the Bravo alum, who currently works in yachting in California, told Us. “Margot is still trying to put the pieces together of what happened and have a colleague who is downplaying and minimizing and invalidating it and a woman on top of it.”
Gabriela — who has since reached out to Margot, 28, via social media — felt “really proud” of the whole Down Under team and the producers for how they handled the situation. “It was really touching, it was [a] beautiful episode at the end showing the camaraderie and the way they treated Margot,” Gabriela explained. “It was a rollercoaster of emotions in that episode. It was rage and being triggered and then feeling good somehow. There are good people out there.”
Gabriela was pleased to see Bravo and Jason’s crew handle the scandal with care, and the same happened during her season with producers. “I did end up quitting the show because I didn’t feel supported and not emotionally safe,” she told Us, but she claimed that her producers frequently “broke the fourth wall” and stepped into on-camera drama, alleging that they “had a hard time deciphering what was consent and what wasn’t, especially when alcohol was involved.”
She added, “And it wasn’t just the bed jumping thing [during my season]. It was the fighting, the arguments people were getting into when we were drunk. It was having a mental breakdown, crying hysterically. They did step in and say ‘Hey, cut it out, go to bed, bye.’
She continued: “I was told that by a producer that they had to decide when to draw the line to protect everybody in a situation. They don’t want break the fourth wall. They want to watch everything play out, but they also have their own ethical code that they have to follow and I’m grateful for that. …. They have to protect the network, they have to protect themselves and they have to protect us.”
With reporting by Andrea Simpson