A New Orleans-based reality-TV star accused of rape in a lawsuit filed Thursday has fired back at what his attorneys describe as “disgusting, defamatory allegations.”
Toney Converse, a former Tulane Green Wave running back and now an ex-con star on the Animal Planet show “Pit Bulls & Parolees,” is accused by a Pennsylvania seminary student of drugging her, raping her twice last year and impregnating her.
The lawsuit, filed in Orleans Parish Civil District Court, says the woman was a virgin before Converse pulled her up the stairs of a house on Franklin Avenue in June 2014 and sexually assaulted her.
It says she returned to New Orleans two months later to confront Converse about the rape and also to talk to Tia Torres, the owner of Villalobos Rescue Center and the TV show’s lead character.
Jennifer Stampfel claims she signed up for “Bully Boot Camp,” a program run through the animal rescue center, and planned to stay at the same house where Converse was living and where she claims he raped her. She faced off with Converse, who later forced her to perform oral sex on him, the lawsuit states.
NOPD spokesman Tyler Gamble confirmed Thursday that Stampfel filed a police report in January. Gamble said the investigation remains pending.
In a statement to The New Orleans Advocate, Converse’s attorneys, Rick Kelly and Rick Kohnke, said the East Jefferson High School graduate had consensual sex with Stampfel “on several occasions over an extended period of time. There was no rape.”
They said Converse plans to file a countersuit against Stampfel for defamation, that she “has a serious problem with ‘reality’ ” and that Converse was “a vulnerable target,” given his prison history.
Torres also responded Friday, saying emails and text messages that Stampfel sent to both Converse and the animal center will show “the polar opposite of what she’s alleging.”
Torres pledged that she, along with her nonprofit rescue group and her Chalmette bar, Tahyo Tavern, will file a countersuit. All three are named as defendants in the lawsuit.
The bar is where Stampfel claims Converse drugged her Coke prior to raping her.
“It ain’t the size of the dog in the fight that counts, but the size of the fight in the dog, and she’s picked the wrong dog to fight with,” Torres said.
Converse, 36, served more than eight years in prison on an 18-year sentence from a drug conviction in 2002. He was released to parole supervision on June 22, 2013, according to a state Corrections Department spokeswoman.
“Prior to these allegations, Mr. Converse was known in this community as the Tulane running back who had made a serious mistake with drugs, went to prison, and then became a cast member on a reality TV show,” the statement by his attorneys reads.
“He is well-liked and respected, having already paid his debt to society. Mr. Converse is very confident that if this matter is tried to a jury, there will be no question as to who is telling the truth.”
His lawyers said Converse “will continue to cooperate fully with NOPD and his parole officer, and will actively provide evidence to the authorities who have been investigating plaintiff’s claims. Mr. Converse is the real victim.”
The New Orleans Advocate has a policy of not identifying victims of sex crimes, but Stampfel has agreed to identify herself publicly to “bring awareness to the situation,” said her attorney, Charles Marshall III.
Her lawsuit also names Torres, the rescue group and 44 Blue, the California production company behind the TV show. A spokeswoman for 44 Blue did not return a message.