A Pennsylvania woman who claims she befriended one of the stars of a New Orleans-based reality TV show — only to be drugged, twice raped and impregnated by him last year — filed a lawsuit Thursday seeking damages from the man, a local dog rescue group, its owner and the production company behind the show “Pit Bulls & Parolees.”
Jennifer Stampfel claims she was a virgin until former Tulane Green Wave running back Toney Converse, 36, raped her at a house on Franklin Avenue last June.
Two months later, the lawsuit claims, Converse forced her to perform oral sex on him in the same house after she had returned to New Orleans to confront him over the earlier rape and a brief ensuing pregnancy.
Stampfel’s attorney, Charles Marshall III, declined to discuss details of the allegations Thursday but said Stampfel filed a report early this year with the New Orleans Police Department.
“This is a horrific tragedy, and this (lawsuit) is just about making those responsible accountable for it,” Marshall said. “It’s a very terrible, terrible situation.”
NOPD spokesman Tyler Gamble confirmed Thursday that Stampfel filed a police report on Jan. 28 and said the case remains under investigation.
The New Orleans Advocate has a policy of not identifying victims of purported sex crimes, but Stampfel has agreed to identify herself publicly to “bring awareness to the situation,” her lawyer said.
Neither Converse nor Tia Torres, owner of the nonprofit Villalobos Rescue Center and a named defendant in the lawsuit, was present Thursday at the center, which sits in the shadow of the Claiborne Avenue bridge in the 9th Ward.
Messages left for them also went unreturned. A spokeswoman for 44 Blue, the California production company behind the show, did not immediately return a call for comment.
“Pit Bulls & Parolees,” which chronicles the canine rescue efforts and highjinks among the staff at the center, airs on Animal Planet.
Converse, an East Jefferson High School graduate who is one of the featured ex-cons on the show, was convicted on cocaine charges in Jefferson Parish in 2002 and sentenced to 18 years in prison. A state Corrections Department spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for the terms of his parole or when he was released from prison.
In her lawsuit, filed in Orleans Parish Civil District Court, Stampfel claims she was in seminary school, “in the process of becoming a pastor,” when she met Converse during a visit to the center in April 2014.
“At the time, plaintiff believed that Converse was trying to make something of his life and help people and animals,” the lawsuit states.
She came to town again in June of last year to attend the six-week Summer Hebrew Institute at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. On June 13, 2014, she claims, she drove Converse to a Chalmette bar owned by Torres, ordered a soft drink and turned around. When she next took a sip, it tasted strange, she alleges.
As Stampfel and Converse later walked in the French Quarter, she “began to feel strange, light-headed, and like she was losing control of her motor skills,” the lawsuit states.
She recalled Converse later pulling her upstairs at a house on Franklin Avenue and raping her, she claims.
“During the assault, Converse put his hand on plaintiff’s throat and held her down, choking her. He then put his fingers over plaintiff’s mouth and said, ‘Shhhh,’ ” the lawsuit alleges.
“She woke up the next morning and Converse told her never to tell anyone about the incident and that he knew exactly where she was staying.”
Stampfel returned to the seminary, then 10 days later went to a New Orleans clinic. Four days after that, she began “bleeding heavily and having severe abdominal pain,” the lawsuit states.
The next day she went to Interim LSU Hospital and reported the rape. She claims she “found out that she had become pregnant as a result of the rape by Converse.”
Stampfel claims she sought to confront Converse about the rape and to tell Torres. So she signed up for “Bully Boot Camp,” a program run through the rescue group.
Under the program, she was to stay at the same Franklin Street address where she claims she was raped in June. She arrived in August and faced off with Converse, who tried to pull up her dress and assault her again, she alleges.
Later that night, Converse threatened to push her down a set of steps, then “forced plaintiff down by her shoulders into a stooping position and violently forced her to perform oral sex on him,” the lawsuit alleges.
She claims she reported both alleged rapes to Torres and “was told that she was no longer welcome” in the program. Converse later started harassing her to write a letter saying he had not raped her, the lawsuit states.
In November, she claims, she learned she had contracted HPV, a sexually transmitted disease.
In the eight-page lawsuit, Stampfel claims Converse drugged her, “raped her twice, stole her virginity, transmitted an STD to her, impregnated (her) and threatened to kill her.”
She has accused Torres, the rescue organization and 44 Blue of failing to supervise Converse.
Stampfel does not specify the amount of money she’s seeking.
Follow John Simerman on Twitter, @johnsimerman.