MTV and Real World Contestant Settles Out of Court Over Alleged “Toothbrush Rape”
Tonya Cooley, a former contestant on Real World Chicago, has settled her lawsuit with MTV over an alleged 2009 rape that occurred while Tonya was on Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Ruins.
Tonya accused two of her fellow contestants, Kenneth Santucci and Evan Starkman, of sexually assaulting her with a toothbrush while she slept. In 2011,Tonya filed a lawsuit against MTV for failing to stop the incident. She also claimed that her dismissal from the show was not for the reason the network cited (slapping a fellow contestant), but rather for reporting the incident.
While the terms of the settlement aren’t being made public, we do know that at the time Tonya initially filed her claim, MTV’s parent company, Viacom Media Networks, fired back pretty heavily against Tonya. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Viacom stated that Tonya “failed to avoid the injuries of which she complains. For example, while she was a contestant on The Ruins, [she] was frequently intoxicated (to an extent far greater than other contestants), rowdy, combative, flirtatious and on multiple occasions intentionally exposed her bare breasts and genitalia to other contestants."
In light of that statement, some outlets, such as Jezebel and Boston Herald, have accused MTV and Viacom of blaming the victim.