Bachelor’ creator Mike Fleiss’ divorce is final; ex-wife drops assault allegations
Two weeks after allegations of domestic assault, Mike Fleiss, the executive producer of ABC’s “The Bachelor,” and his wife have divorced. Laura Kaeppeler Fleiss, a former Miss America from Wisconsin, received a $10-million settlement, according to a person familiar with the matter but not authorized to speak publicly. The couple will share custody of their 4-year-old son. She withdrew her allegations of assault stemming from an alleged altercation earlier this month at one of the couple’s homes in Hawaii. Her representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday. The dispute flared when the pair were arguing about a recent pregnancy. Mike Fleiss, in court documents, alleged that his wife of five years deceived him because he was under the impression that she was taking birth control. He said he grabbed her cellphone and strode from the house, a scene that was captured by security video. ABC and Warner Bros. Television, which produces “The Bachelor,” declined to comment Wednesday. Production of the show was not interrupted by the allegations, a Warner Bros. executive said. Fleiss, 55, filed for divorce on July 10; it was his second, following a split from his high school sweetheart in 2012. In court documents, he denied that he assaulted his wife, whom he met in 2012 when he was a judge for the Miss America pageant. The dispute between Fleiss and his wife stood out because the producer became famous by peddling televised romance. In a court declaration, Laura Fleiss, 31, claimed that a recent pregnancy — she now is apparently about 12 weeks along with the couple’s second child — was the cause of strife in the marriage, leading her husband to file for divorce. Laura Fleiss claimed that when they got married, her husband agreed to have only one child. When he learned she was pregnant for a second time, she claimed in her legal filing, he “demanded” she get an abortion.
On July 4, she claimed, he threatened to divorce her and cut her off financially if she did not terminate her pregnancy, and she said he told her: “Next time I see you, I don’t want to see your stomach.” “I have not hurt, attacked or attempted to physically harm Laura or our child,” Fleiss said in a declaration filed earlier this month. He also submitted text exchanges with his wife and offered to supply video footage of the incident for the court to review. A security-camera image captured what appeared to be a scuffle, but in court documents, Fleiss relayed his version of the encounter. He said that he took her cellphone because “I wanted to be sure she was not having an affair and that the baby she was carrying was mine. She would not give the phone to me, so I took it out of her hand.”
The news comes on the heels of a successful season of “The Bachelorette,” which concluded Tuesday evening with an average of 7.4 million viewers, up roughly 10% from the 2018 edition’s finale ratings.