Tonya Cooley, Real World, Road Rules Challenge


The original purveyors of youthful voyeurism are getting a hard dose of reality—in court.

MTV and the creators of the Real World are on the receiving end of a lawsuit filed by former castmember Tonya Cooley who claims she was sexually assaulted during her stint on the long-running reality series.

Who woulda thunk it?

Per the complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Thursday and obtained by E! News, Cooley claims that when she was on the Real World: Ruins in 2009 contestants were provided with unlimited amounts of alcohol and that male contestants during the show were encouraged to mistreat the females.

A rep for the cable network declined to comment, but a spokeswoman for Real World masterminds Bunim/Murray Productions, told E! News, "after a thorough investigation, we have found Tonya Cooley's claims to be completely baseless."

Real World: Ruins, part of the cable net's Real World/Road Rules spinoff The Challenge, promotes the show as following castmembers from "drunken dares and talent shows to war-like fights and sexcapades"—and Cooley says unfortunately she reaped the worst of it.

According to court docs, Cooley says during filming in Phuket, Thailand, male castmembers forcibly removed women's bathing suits, inappropriately touched female castmembers intimate areas and used derogatory terms that were offensive and insulted women. In addition, men and women were required to share bedrooms and bathrooms.

That didn't sit well with the MTV personality, but after she began to voice her concerns to higher-ups, she said she was told to "just deal with it" as it was part of the game.

Cooley contends MTV ratified and condoned this treatment.

"[Defendants] took no action to stop mistreatment of females," states the suit. 

In one particularly terrifying incident, Cooley alleged that she got drunk and passed out and two of her fellow castmates had inserted a toothbrush inside of her vagina. When she woke up the next morning, she says she was unaware of the sexual assault, but noticed she had lacerations and abrasions. Only later did she learn about it from other castmembers who watched them do it.

But in a further outrage, Tonya claims her two assailants, Kenneth Santucci and Evan Starkman, never faced disciplinary action nor was she informed of the assault (though she notes the next morning producers gave the duo a new toothbrush).

On another occasion, Cooley got into a shouting match with another contestant and ended up slapping the participant, a violation of rules prohibiting offensive physical contact between castmembers. But unlike Santucci and Starkman, whom she accuses of raping her, Playboy's former Cyber Girl of the Week was booted off the show.

"[MTV and producers] created an environment in which degrading and harassing behavior toward the female contestants was openly tolerated and even encouraged," states the complaint.

Cooley is suing for sexual harassment, assault, sexual battery, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress and wrongful termination along with other causes of action. Santucci, Starkman, MTV and Bunim/Murray are named as defendants in the action.

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