Tonya Cooley alleges sexual assault during MTV's 'The Ruins' filming
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 10/28/2011
Tonya Cooley is claiming she was sexually assaulted while competing on The Ruins season of MTV's The Challenge series, which was filmed in Phuket, Thailand and aired on the network in 2009.
In a lawsuit Cooley filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Thursday, the reality TV star alleges that she passed out drunk during filming and woke up with lacerations and abrasions on her genital area, which she later learned were caused by two male cast members inserting a toothbrush into her vagina while she was unconscious, E! News reported.
Cooley, who reportedly claimed she was completely unaware of the sexual assault until told, alleges that she subsequently learned the information from additional castmates who had witnessed the incident.
In the lawsuit, the former TheReal World Chicago star reportedly alleges her assailants were Kenneth Santucci and Evan Starkman and The Ruins producers never punished the men or notified her of the alleged assault. Cooley claimsthe show's producers did offer the men a new toothbrush the following morning, however.
In addition to her assault claim, Cooley also claims The Ruins' male contestants -- who were provided extensive amounts of alcohol -- were encouraged to treat the women on the show poorly.
According to the lawsuit -- which names Santucci, Starkman, MTV, and The Ruins' Bunim/Murray Productions production company as defendants -- the show's male cast members took off women's bathing suits without permission, used derogatory and offensive terms, and inappropriately touched the female contestants in their private areas, E! News reported.
Cooley -- who is suing for sexual battery, sexual harassment, assault, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and wrongful termination -- claims she voiced her concerns about the offensive incidents but was told to "just deal with it" by the show's producers, whom Cooley believes condoned the treatment.
"[The defendants] took no action to stop mistreatment of females," the lawsuit states, according to E! News.
"[MTV and producers] created an environment in which degrading and harassing behavior toward the female contestants was openly tolerated and even encouraged."
MTV declined to comment on the lawsuit when contacted, E! News reported.