Though Ashley Darby appears to be standing by her husband (for now), the Michael Darby sexual assault allegations have now gotten him suspended from The Real Housewives of Potomac pending a criminal investigation.
Michael, whose sexuality has been a topic of debate on RHOP since Season 1 (and whose alleged affairs with other men has gotten him tabloid attention at least once), is charged with second-degree assault and fourth-degree sexual contact.
Michael Darby allegedly assaulted a cameraman while the man’s hands were busy filming
According to NBC Washington, Michael “grabbed and groped” the butt of cameraman Orville Palmer while Palmer was filming scenes for the show on September 1st.
Palmer says that “as [he] turned around [Michael] smiled and gave me a flirtatious look,” per court documents. The cameraman “put his camera down and told Darby to stop,” then alerted his supervisor. Palmer filed the Michael Darby sexual assault charges on September 4th.
It’s since emerged that this was not the first contentious encounter between Michael and Orville. Orville also filed for a restraining order against Michael following an August incident in which Darby allegedly “kicked [Orville] in his buttocks” while the cameraman was filming. (A judge denied the restraining order.)
The maximum sentence for the two charges against Michael Darby are eleven years in prison and fines to be determined by the judge if Darby is found guilty.
The Michael Darby sexual assault claims are the latest in a string of handsy incidents
Bravo has already suspended Darby from the show indefinitely. Shortly after the news of the allegations broke, the network released the following statement on behalf of itself and Truly Original, RHOP’s production company:
Bravo has comprehensive policies and guidelines relating to the safety of cast and crew which production companies are required to follow, in addition to their own protocols they have in place. Bravo and Truly Original, the production company for ‘The Real Housewives of Potomac,’ have suspended filming with Michael Darby….Immediately upon learning of these allegations, we commenced a thorough internal review and, per our protocol, took all appropriate steps to ensure the safe working environment and safe forum for communication for everyone associated with the production. The review is ongoing and we are not able to comment further.
But, as numerous publications have already noted, this is not the first time that Michael Darby has had his hands on other men — either allegedly or definitely. Most of Michael’s screentime in RHOP Season 1 involved the fallout from co-star Gizelle Bryant claiming she saw Michael squeeze Andrew Martin’s butt while the two were dancing.
And in 2016, Michael had an alleged fling with “a younger black guy” while on a business trip in London. Because none of the supposed photos of Michael and his fling showed Michael’s face, though, the story quickly fizzled.
Ashley Darby has gone silent after the latest Michael Darby sexual assault development
Of particular note over the past few days is Ashley Darby herself. The RHOP star, who co-owns Arlington restaurant Oz with her husband, posted a defiant Instagram story this past Saturday, and seemed to take Michael’s side 100%.
“No charges filed,” she wrote. “No arrest made. No Bravo suspension. No worries. We’ll keep you posted.”
However, Ashley’s update appears to have been incorrect — or out-of-touch — on at least one count. There *were* charges filed against Michael as of Ashley’s story, which she shared on the 29th. The first Michael Darby sexual assault reports surfaced on September 27th — and Orville Palmer filed the charges against Michael almost over three weeks before that.
Additionally, it looks like Bravo released its statement suspending Michael on Saturday, though we’re not exactly sure at what time. So it’s possible that Ashley already knew about Michael’s suspension from the show and the criminal charges against him, but shared her Instagram story anyway.
Interestingly enough, here is Ashley’s Instagram update from September 1st, the day Michael Darby’s sexual assault allegedly took place:
Since then, Michael has not appeared in Ashley’s Instagram feed. (Or she’s deleted every post with him in it from between then and now.)
Though we of course can’t say for sure, it seems highly likely — given the numerous allegations currently facing Bravo reality stars — that The Real Housewives of Potomac Season 4 will not shy away from the Michael Darby sexual assault storyline. The show is currently filming; based on previous premieres, it’s believed that RHOP Season 4 will drop in April of 2019.
(Photo credits: Michael Darby sexual assault via Instagram)
John Sharp is a Starcasm’s chief editorial correspondent-at-large. Tips: E-mail at email@example.com or send on Twitter at @john_starcasm.