'Bachelor' Matt James Addresses 'Troubling' Rachael Kirkconnell and Chris Harrison Controversies

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Matt James has more to say about the recent controversies involving Bachelor host Chris Harrison and contestant Rachael Kirkconnell. The Bachelor issued a lengthy statement on Instagram on Monday, addressing the "troubling" information that has surfaced in recent weeks, and promising fans that they'll "hear more" from him on the topic. 

In his second apology for defending contestant Rachael Kirkconnell's racist actions, Harrison announced on Feb. 13 that he'd be taking time off and would not be hosting the show's upcoming After the Final Rose special. Kirkconnell has also issued an apology. 

Read James' full statement below: 

"The past few weeks have been some of the most challenging of my life, and while there are several episodes left of the season, it is important that I take the time to address the troubling information that has come to light since we wrapped filming, including the incredibly disappointing photos of Rachael Kirkconnell and the interview between Rachel Lindsay and Chris Harrison. 

The reality is that I'm learning about these situations in real time, and it has been devastating and heartbreaking to put it bluntly. Chris's failure to receive and understand the emotional labor that my friend Rachel Lindsay was taking on by graciously and patiently explaining the racist of the Antebellum South, a painful that every American should understand immediately, was troubling and painful to watch. As Black people and allies immediately knew and understood, it was a clear reflection of a much larger issue that The Bachelor franchise has fallen short on addressing adequately for years. 

This moment has sparked critical conversations and reporting, raised important questions, and resulted in inspiring displays of solidarity from The Bachelor nation. It has also pushed me to reevaluate and process what my experience on The Bachelor represents, not just for me, but for all of the contestants of color, especially the Black contestants of this season and seasons past, and for you, the viewers at home. 

I will continue to process this experience, and you will hear more from me in the end. My greatest prayer is that this is an inflection point that results in real and institutional change for the better."

Just after James' Bachelor premiere in January, a TikTok user accused Kirkconnell -- an early frontrunner on the show -- of bullying her in the past for dating Black men. Then, another user accused Kirkconnell of liking racist photos. Pics have also surfaced of Kirkconnell at an Old South plantation-themed party while in . 

In a statement on Instagram on Feb. 11, Kirkconnell apologized, and said she hoped to "earn your forgiveness through my future actions."

That apology came one day after Harrison issued his own statement, apologizing for "wrongly speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism" by defending Kirkconnell's racist actions in an interview with Rachel Lindsay, asking people to offer Kirkconnell "grace." 

Amid the controversy, James took to Instagram on Feb. 12 to express his support for Lindsay. 

"I am beyond grateful to have Rachel as a mentor during this season. Your advocacy of BIPOC people in the franchise is invaluable, I stand with you and the rest of the women advocating for change and accountability," he wrote. 

Matt James Rachel Lindsay
Instagram Story

Many fans continued to speak out against Harrison, while nearly all the contestants on James' season -- including Kirkconnell -- shared a post condemning "any defense of racism." 

In a follow-up statement on Feb. 13, Harrison revealed he'd be stepping away for a "period of time." 

"By excusing historical racism, I defended it. I invoked the term 'woke ,' which is unacceptable. I am ashamed over how uninformed I was. I was so wrong," he continued in part, before sending a message to the Black and BIPOC communities.

"The historic season of The Bachelor should not be marred or overshadowed by my mistakes or diminished by my actions. To that end, I have consulted with Warner Bros. and ABC and will be stepping aside for a period of time," Harrison wrote.

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