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MTV settles with Tonya Cooley over Challenge rape lawsuit

MTV and The Real World Chicago cast member Tonya Cooley have settled a lawsuit in which she alleges she was raped during production of Challenge: The Ruins. The terms of the settlement are unknown.

Last fall, Tonya sued, claiming she was raped by Kenny and Evan with a toothbrush while she was unconscious and cameras rolled (read the full lawsuit). She wanted damages for sexual harassment and wrongful termination, among other things.

The Hollywood Reporter says that Viacom defended itself using “affirmative defenses including Cooley’s assumption of risk, consent, a waiver, a release and the argument that there were legitimate business reasons for sending her home — that she was removed from the show because ‘she violently struck another contestant.'” In much more ugly language, Viacom said Tonya:

“failed to avoid the injuries of which she complains. For example, while she was a contestant on The Ruins, Plaintiff 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.”

And what, that behavior, however abhorrent it might be to some people, makes it okay for other contestants to penetrate her while she’s unconscious? Does this really claim that she “failed to avoid” being raped? I hope not, because that’s unconscionable.

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  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.


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