The Golden Bachelor winner Theresa Nist has reacted to a report claiming Gerry Turner hid a long-term, live-in girlfriend he began dating shortly after his wife Toni’s sudden death from his backstory on the show.
Theresa accepted a marriage proposal from Gerry on The Golden Bachelor, which filmed this past summer and just aired its finale on Thursday, November 30 on ABC.
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Just one day before Gerry and Theresa went public with their engagement, The Hollywood Reporter published a report in which a woman claiming to be one of Gerry’s ex-girlfriends alleged she had begun dating Gerry only a month after his wife of 43 years, Toni, passed away in July 2017 and that their live-in romantic relationship lasted for about three years.
Gerry’s alleged ex-girlfriend — whom The Hollywood Reporter gave a “Carolyn” pseudonym because she wanted to preserve her anonymity — also made claims about Gerry that made him look cheap and shallow, and Gerry allegedly went on to date more women once the pair’s relationship ended in January 2020.
When asked if the allegations made Theresa question if she truly knows Gerry inside and out, Theresa replied on Katie Couric’s YouTube channel, “No, actually I didn’t feel that way.”
Theresa explained, “We’ve had so many discussions, and he’s discussed his past with me. And so I did not feel that way. I completely trust Gerry, and we really know each other. We’ve shared past stories.”
But Gerry had told Entertainment Tonight in August, “I haven’t dated in 45 years,” and he’s made no mention of the alleged serious post-marriage relationship in any of his The Golden Bachelor footage or interviews promoting the show.
Instead, The Golden Bachelor season repeatedly showed Gerry engaging in conversations in which he stated he hadn’t been in love with anyone since his wife. Gerry was also shown saying that a woman hadn’t even said she was falling in love with him since his wife had done so.
Carolyn’s allegations have therefore tainted Gerry’s heart-wrenching backstory and perfect-man image.
Theresa, however, suggested that no stone was left unturned in their Fantasy Suite and that they’ve spoken on the phone for about one to three hours every night, getting to know each other on a deep level.
“You don’t see many of the interactions that Gerry and I had together, where you would see that we really and fully developed this relationship,” Theresa shared.
Theresa admitted to Access Hollywood in a separate interview that the Fantasy Suite was a crucial time for her relationship with Gerry because she had “a really difficult time” opening up and being vulnerable on-camera.
“[I] just couldn’t relax,” Theresa confessed. “It wasn’t until the [Fantasy Suite] when I was like, ‘Theresa, just be yourself.'”
She added, “I didn’t want to say the wrong thing. I’ve got six grandsons and I’ve got a brother and a son and a son-in-law, so I was kind of censoring myself a lot. [In the Fantasy Suite], he finally saw who I was, I think.”
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While this should be a joyful time for Gerry and Theresa, they’ve been grilled about The Hollywood Reporter report and whether Gerry has truly been genuine and authentic.
Theresa was asked how she’s dealt with criticism on social media during an interview with The New York Times.
“It’s not fun to read people attacking you on things you know are not true, based on limited views that they see of you,” Theresa acknowledged.
“People were saying that I was dumb or not independent. At first it was difficult, and then I started thinking that everyone has their own opinion based on what they’re seeing, and that’s their experience. I’m very confident in who I am.”
Theresa’s statements seem to be aligned with a source who recently told Entertainment Tonight Gerry never lied to his The Golden Bachelor bachelorettes about his dating history.
“Gerry was open with the golden women in the house about his approximately year-and-a-half-long relationship with the woman referred to as ‘Carolyn,'” the source claimed.
Carolyn — who is reportedly attractive and 14 years Gerry’s junior — told The Hollywood Reporter last week that she became friends with Gerry when they worked together at a mental health center in Davenport, IA, where Gerry lived prior to moving into his “dream” lake house with Toni in Indiana.
(Although Gerry said he had retired at age 55 nearly two decades ago, he reportedly continued working a number of odd jobs afterward, including as a hot tub installer.)
Carolyn and the rest of the staff at the mental health center reportedly adored Gerry and threw him a retirement party when he left Iowa to move to Indiana.
After Toni died in July 2017, Gerry allegedly proceeded to date Carolyn for 10 months as they lived separately, before she then moved into the Indiana lake house that had been Toni’s dream retirement home and lived with him for an additional one year and nine months.
Carolyn shared with The Hollywood Reporter of the beginning of her alleged romance with Gerry, “[After the retirement party], we get the shocking news that Toni passed away, so most everyone at the office went to the visitation in July.”
“Then, in August, I got a phone call from Gerry,” she said. “I was so shocked to hear from him.”
During that phone call, Gerry allegedly said that he was going to be traveling to Davenport to work on his wife’s estate, and he asked Carolyn if she’d be willing to help him donate Toni’s corporate wardrobe to the Dress for Success program.
Carolyn said she didn’t hesitate to offer Gerry her assistance and so he took her out to dinner as a thank you for the favor.
“The idea that I’d go out with a recent widower just mortifies me,” Carolyn admitted.
“I just really didn’t see it. Until I went back and looked at my text messages, I never realized Gerry’s texts had turned hot and heavy so relatively soon.”
Gerry allegedly texted Carolyn in a joking manner, “I got LUCKY when you first said you would go to dinner with me two weeks ago. I mean how often does an old geezer get the beautiful girl?”
Not long afterwards, Gerry reportedly texted her, “You are the right woman for me. No need to look further.”
Gerry allegedly also asked Carolyn to move in with him at his lake house, persistently, but she repeatedly declined. Carolyn said she only came around to the idea of living with Gerry about a year into their relationship.
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In the meantime, Carolyn claimed she would drive five hours from Iowa to Indiana to spend weekends at Gerry’s dream house on the lake. She recalled those weekends being blissful, and Gerry even allegedly promised her elderly mother that he’d marry her someday.
Carolyn therefore agreed to move in with Gerry in Summer 2018, and she told The Hollywood Reporter that Gerry had asked her to quit her job and find a new one near his house.
Carolyn acknowledged that finding a new gig was a difficult task given Gerry’s lake house was “in the middle of nowhere,” but she eventually found an accounting job with a company in Fort Wayne, which resulted in her commuting about an hour to work each way.
Carolyn said she officially moved into Gerry’s house in late July 2018, and The Hollywood Reporter obtained mail as well as a background check to confirm that Gerry’s house was her primary residence at that time.
Soon after Carolyn and Gerry allegedly began living together, Carolyn suggested that Gerry changed.
Gerry allegedly asked Carolyn for $1,000 a month to cover household expenses and they eventually agreed on $850. Carolyn also claimed that Gerry had asked her to split the cost all of their meals, except on special occasions.
When they went to a restaurant together for a regular outing, Carolyn said she would pay her half to Gerry in advance and then Gerry would pick up the check, giving their server the impression that he was generous and chivalrous.
Carolyn also recalled Gerry demanding cleanliness in his home, alleging that he’d require her to make their bed every morning before joining him upstairs for breakfast.
Carolyn and Gerry’s relationship reportedly came crashing down when Carolyn was preparing for Gerry’s high school reunion, which was scheduled to take place in October 2019.
“I’m not taking you to the reunion looking like that,” Carolyn claimed Gerry had said to her while pointing to her body.
Carolyn admitted she had put on 10 pounds — from stress, she said — but she insisted she wasn’t overweight.
The altercation reportedly resulted in the couple’s breakup, and then Gerry allegedly told Carolyn to be out of his house by January 1, 2020.
Carolyn said that Gerry had paid for her U-Haul but she spent an entire day packing up her belongings alone.
Carolyn claimed she was so frazzled and upset that she fell down the stairs and ended up at the emergency room. Carolyn had to undergo surgery on her foot the very next day, as confirmed by a hospital bill obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.
When Gerry arrived home that night, according to Carolyn, he accused her of using the fall as an excuse to prolong her stay at his lake house and also expressed concern that she was going to sue him for causing the injury.
Gerry allegedly still kicked Carolyn out of his house and made her stay at a hotel while she continued working at her job to complete her final week or two weeks’ notice.
Carolyn told The Hollywood Reporter that she struggled to walk to her car using her walker, and then Gerry let her go by saying, “I really wish this would’ve worked out. Call me when you get to your hotel, so I know you made it safe.”
Carolyn had apparently confided in friends and family about the rise and fall of her relationship with Gerry, and some of those loves ones corroborated Carolyn’s story to The Hollywood Reporter.
Based on Gerry’s casting timeline for The Golden Bachelor, he must have applied for the show shortly after his breakup with Carolyn.
Producers had called Gerry in February 2023 to inform him that he’d been chosen to star on The Golden Bachelor, according to Entertainment Weekly.
While Gerry was initially hesitant to accept the role after years of not hearing from producers due to COVID-19, he was ultimately convinced to be the spinoff’s leading man.
Carolyn explained that she initially didn’t want to expose Gerry and their tumultuous relationship out of fear she’d become national news and face scrutiny, but as Gerry became an increasingly beloved and admired figure on reality TV, she didn’t want to feel like the “invisible woman” in his past either.
Carolyn therefore decided to tell her truth and how she was particularly bothered by some of the “lines” Gerry had used on The Golden Bachelor to seemingly seduce some of his bachelorettes.
Gerry told Leslie Fhima — one of his Final 2 bachelorettes alongside Theresa Nist — during their Fantasy Suite in Costa Rica, “I have to have you with my morning coffee, I have to have you when I go to bed at night…”
And according to a text message The Hollywood Reporter viewed from Gerry to Carolyn, he wrote to her the following on September 2, 2017: “Damn, I go to bed at night thinking of you and wake up in the morning thinking of you.”
One of Gerry’s friends, Heather Lanning-Adams, a former waitress at The Shady Nook bar and restaurant which is one of Gerry’s favorite hangout spots, also recently claimed that Gerry had “dated a couple of women” in the past six years.
“They weren’t all long-term, but they… weren’t short-term either… He was with a couple of women for a decent amount of time, but it just didn’t work out,” Heather previously told The Sun.
Once Gerry’s “not-so-golden past” made headlines on Wednesday, November 29, People also published an article with what appeared to be previously unpublished quotes Gerry had given about his relationship history during an earlier interview with the magazine.
“I’ve dated a number of times since Toni’s passed, more recently than back closer to when she’s passed,” Gerry previously told People. “For one reason or another, the attempts didn’t work out. I could give you a wide range of reasons, but it doesn’t really matter.”
Gerry had said he thought he’d be ready for a new relationship after one year of mourning the death of his high school sweetheart — and he tried dating at that point — but he was wrong.
“Every time I thought I was ready, I realized I wasn’t,” Gerry admitted. “Somehow I got it in my head that if you grieve for a year, that at the end of the year you should be okay. It absolutely wasn’t the case.”
About three years after Toni’s death, Gerry said he sought a grief counselor for help and guidance because it was “a difficult time.”
“I finally decided, ‘It’s time for me to go see a grief counselor,’ because I wasn’t sure I was on track,” Gerry shared.
“I wasn’t sure I was mending properly. It was probably a life changer for me because I remember having two sessions with the counselor, and he goes, ‘You’re fine. You just got to give yourself credit for being okay.'”
Gerry had claimed the therapy made him optimistic about dating again, although his renewed sense of confidence and positivity didn’t lead to any lasting relationships.
“I’ve still developed one very good friendship with one woman that lives about 40 miles away in Michigan,” Gerry shared.
“We realized that the romantic side of the relationship just wasn’t going to work, but we’ve seemed to maintain a nice friendship, so I feel good about that. If nothing else, some of the failures were offset by that one nice success.”
Gerry had said that after putting himself out there again, he found himself discouraged about finding love again.
“One failure led to another for a variety of reasons,” Gerry said. “It was actually about three and a half or four years, I just finally realized that, ‘Okay, I’m happy with myself. If I am going to be alone, I can deal with it.'”
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About The Author:
Elizabeth Kwiatkowski is Associate Editor of Reality TV World and has been covering the reality TV genre for more than a decade.