Reality Stars Who Were Accused Of Sexual Misconduct

Everyone has that reality television program they hate to admit they're obsessed with. Whether it was keeping up with the tanned beefy gym rats of Jersey Shore or the dozens of Bachelorettes and Bachelors that have made their way onto your television screen, reality programs have become many people's guilty pleasures. Maybe you don't keep up with the Kardashians or you're oblivious as to what tropical oasis this "Below Deck" season will be filmed in, but you surely still hear about the many reality stars that seem to get paid just to exist. Whether we like it or not, reality television is a pop culture staple. It has captivated not only the weekly fanatics who tune in to see who got this week's rose, but it has also made its way into the mainstream news cycle. 

Television personalities seem to be normal people — except for their agreement to allow cameras to invade their everyday lives. Some have achieved great heights, making bank from their shows and with paid social media content due to their gazillions of fans. Others have hit a less fortunate fate, their 15 minutes of fame ending along with their cultural relevance. Either way, one thing is for certain — all press isn't exactly good press. 

Many reality stars have gone to jail, made cringe-worthy statements, and tarnished their reputations before the season of their show had even ended. While not all allegations against reality television personalities are true, they do their damage nonetheless. We're taking a look at reality stars who were accused of sexual misconduct.

Below Deck's Gary King was accused of sexually assaulting a producer

Gary King has quite the reputation on Bravo's "Below Deck Sailing Yacht." While he's been a cast staple since Season 2, his duties as chief officer are often clouded by his affection for his female co-workers. King has been notorious for having multiple romantic connections during the charter season — getting involved in love triangles and letting his flirtatious personality steer the ship. 

The reality star made headlines when a "BDSY" producer accused him of sexually assaulting her. Samantha Suarez told Rolling Stone that King forced himself on her while the cast was quarantining in their hotel rooms prior to filming the show in 2022. Suarez says she was ensuring the cast stayed isolated in their rooms and had accompanied a drunken King back to his hotel room after filming his confessional interviews. After he insisted that she stay in his room, Suarez alleged King "came up behind her, grabbed her, pressed her against his body, and refused to let go of her even though she says she tried to kick and elbow him to get him off her." Several other producers (who remain anonymous) also accused the star of sexual misconduct while filming.

The chief officer took to Instagram (per PageSix) in since-deleted comments denying the incident took place. "I have never sexually harassed someone in my life, and I will never," he wrote. A spokesperson for Bravo told Rolling Stone: "The concerns Ms. Suarez raised in July 2022 were investigated at that time and action was taken based on the findings."

Josh Duggar was charged with possessing child pornography

Reality television star to convicted felon probably isn't the path that Josh Duggar saw himself taking. Duggar made his way onto television screens across the nation while starring on the TLC show "19 Kids and Counting," which premiered in 2008. While their Christian lifestyle and ever-expanding family made them famous, Duggar's personal life behind the scenes was a far darker reality. 

Duggar's troubles began in 2003 when his father sent him to live away from home over molestation accusations. A police report was filed in 2006 (which InTouch later acquired in 2015) alleging that Duggar touched a number of his sisters inappropriately while they slept. While an anonymous tip made its way to the Springdale Police Department, the statute of limitations expired before charges could be filed. Duggar released a public apology in 2015, but TLC ultimately canceled "19 Kids and Counting" just months later over the controversy. 

The reality star made headlines again in 2021 when he was arrested on federal charges of receiving and possessing child pornography. Duggar pled not guilty to the charges but was later convicted in 2021 and sentenced to 12.5 years in prison. A federal agent involved in the case revealed that the former TLC star had downloaded over 65 pornographic photos, calling them "some of the worst sexual abuse child pornography that he has seen in over 1,000 cases." TLC's spinoff series "Counting On," which ran for 11 seasons, was later canceled following the sentencing.

Mike Isabella was accused of sexual assault by his manager

Mike Isabella was working as a celebrity chef when his former manager accused him of sexual harassment. According to The Washington Post, Chloe Caras named the former "Top Chef" star, his company Mike Isabella Concepts, and four of his business partners in a lawsuit in 2018. "Women generally do not make it into the higher management ranks of Mr. Isabella's establishments and when Ms. Caras did, she became the target of extraordinary sex-based hostility and abuse," the lawsuit alleged.

In the court documents, Caras claimed she was called "b*tch" and "wh**e" and that those named in the suit commented on her body and touched her without permission. She alleged the harassment continued even after she reported it to Isabella. According to Caras, the behavior got out of hand after a male sous chef asked to join her and Isabella in a restaurant booth, to which Isabella allegedly replied: "If you sleep with Chloe, you can."

Isabella, along with his partners and company, denied the allegations. "Simply put, the allegations of an unwelcoming or hostile work atmosphere are false," they said in a statement that was shared by their lawyers. "Harassment, discrimination, bullying, abuse, or unequal treatment of any kind whatsoever are not tolerated at MIC." The "Top Chef" star settled his case with Caras in 2018 under confidential terms.

Nev Schulman's show was put on pause over sexual misconduct allegations

Nev Schulman is best known for hosting the hit MTV series "Catfish," but the show hit the rails in 2018 amidst sexual assault accusations against Nev himself. YouTuber Ayissha Morgan accused the reality television personality of sexual harassment and assault in a video posted to her account. In the since-deleted video (per Hollywood Life), Morgan claimed Schulman questioned her sexual orientation and said things like: "I just don't think you've met the right guy yet ... Do you think I'm attractive? ... Have you ever had sex with a guy? I think you should try it ... "

The show was briefly suspended following the accusations and MTV launched an investigation into the matter. Schulman denied the allegations against him in an emailed statement to USA Today, saying: "The behavior described in this video did not happen and I'm fortunate that there are a number of former colleagues who were present during this time period who are willing to speak up with the truth." He continued, "I have always been transparent about my life and would always take responsibility for my actions — but these claims are false."

After a weeks-long hiatus, MTV ended their investigation and cleared Schulman of any wrongdoing. "The independent investigator found the allegations made in the YouTube videos to be not credible and without merit," a spokesperson for the network told The Hollywood Reporter at the time. 

Thomas Ravenal was at the center of sexual assault allegations

Thomas Ravenel may have starred on Bravo's "Southern Charm" for five seasons, but his behavior has been anything but that of a Southern gentleman. While impregnating his co-star Kathryn Dennis (who is 30 years younger than him) out of wedlock didn't help his reputation in his conservative Charleston hometown, it hardly scratches the surface of controversies he's faced. 

Ravenel has had multiple sexual assault accusations levied against him, with the first case emerging in 2016. Ashley Perkins accused the reality star of assaulting her mother Debbie after she met him for a Tinder date, telling People her mother said he forced himself on her. "He pushes my mom onto the nanny's bed, grabs her wrist with one hand, then he starts trying to pull her pants off," Ashley said. "She told me that he held her hands back with one arm and then pulled his penis out and shoved it in her face." Ravenel ultimately settled the case out of court for $200,000.

Ravenel was hit with more accusations in 2018 when his former nanny Dawn Ledwell claimed he made unwelcome advances toward her. According to court documents obtained and explained by WCSC 5, Ledwell claimed Ravenel "got undressed and put the nanny's hand on his private parts and then grabbed her private parts." The reality star later pleaded guilty and paid a $125,000 settlement. $80,000 was donated to the non-profit organization People Against Rape in Ledwell's name and the remaining money was used to pay her legal bills, according to Blast.

Luke Jones got in bed with a castmate without her consent on Below Deck

Gary King isn't the only "Below Deck" star to come under fire for accusations against him. Luke Jones rocked the reality television world when cameras caught him drunkenly getting into the bed of his sleeping co-star Margot Sisson. In a move that rarely happens, producers stepped in to handle the situation. 

The incident occurred after a crew night out when Jones got completely naked and crawled into bed with Sisson, who was asleep. Chief Stew Aesha Scott then informed the captain of what happened, and producers immediately stepped in as Captain Jason Chambers ordered Jones to spend the night in a hotel.

Jones was fired the next day for his actions, and the crew rallied around Sisson as she tried to piece the events together. "How long was he in my room for? Do you know?" Sisson asked her female co-workers. The show was applauded for its handling of the ordeal and its insistence on consent. "We should be able to stand naked in a room and not have anyone do anything to us. You know, you were allowed to be drunk, you were allowed to be. It's the other person's problem," Chef Tzarina Mace-Ralph said during the episode.

Bachelor in Paradise star DeMario Jackson was accused of rape

Bachelor Nation stars don't join the show expecting to leave with unfortunate memories. Such was the case for DeMario Jackson when a drunken encounter with Corinne Olympios halted his season in "Bachelor in Paradise." After heavy flirting, Jackson claimed that Olympios, "[Got] up out of the pool and [put] her lady parts right on my face," in an interview with E! News. A third party blamed Jackson after the incident and he was accused of sexual misconduct, but his name was later cleared. Olympios, unable to recall the incident, stated that "something bad obviously took place." She later backtracked, apologized, and denied being a victim of sexual assault.

In 2022, Jackson was accused of rape by two Jane Does who say the reality star forced himself on them while out on dates. The women, who have gone on to sue Jackson in two respective lawsuits, both reported their alleged assaults to the Rape Treatment Center at UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center following the alleged incidents. Jackson took to his Instagram Story (per Los Angeles Times) following the accusations, admitting he provided the police with screenshots of text conversations and Uber receipts that proved his innocence.

"The authorities looked at all my evidence and let me, a six foot, four inches tall Black man leave that precinct without a doubt because I did no wrong," he said. "I am innocent, I did not hurt or harm those women." As of the time of writing, the case is ongoing.

Multiple 'Challenge' contestants and producers were accused of assaulting Tonya Cooley

Fans may remember Tonya Cooley from MTV's "The Challenge," but the reality star abruptly left the franchise following Season 9. Cooley was first involved in a controversial episode of the show in 2005 during "The Inferno 2." The episode featured co-stars Veronica Portillo, Tina Barta, and Rachel Robinson taking nude photographs of Cooley while she slept and later sharing them with other cast members. Though the episode was originally aired on the network, Netflix later cut it from its platform.

In a separate incident, Cooley later sued MTV, Bunim/Murray Productions, Kenny Santucci, and Evan Starkman over sexual assault accusations. As per The Daily Beast, The lawsuit alleged that cast members took "another male participant's toothbrush and ... inserted the toothbrush into the plaintiff's vagina" while she was sleeping. Cooley also accused the network and production of fostering an environment that encouraged heavy drinking and scandalous behavior. She claimed that MTV and the production team encouraged male contestants to "mistreat females, usually in a sexually offensive manner." The case was settled out of court in 2012, and Cooley, Santucci, and Starkman were never allowed to compete on the show again.

Former contestant Susie Meister, whose husband worked on the production, had a different take. She admitted to Buzzfeed: "The truth of the matter is, Tonya got wasted, passed out on her bed with her bikini bottoms falling off, and the guys did hold up this toothbrush as a joke to take a picture — which is totally inappropriate and disgusting. But there wasn't an assault that happened."

Connor Smith was accused of soliciting sex from an underage girl

Connor Smith was first introduced to fans on Season 3 of the MTV show "Are You the One?" which followed reality stars' attempts to find their perfect match. Smith made headlines for a far darker reason in 2023, however, when a warrant was issued for his arrest. According to a press release from the Lake County, Illinois Sheriff's Office, the reality star is wanted for making arrangements to have sex with a minor.

Smith was allegedly communicating with a detective who posed as a 15-year-old girl. In the conversations, the former MTV star sent explicit images and videos to an undercover detective before making arrangements to meet in person. At the supposed encounter, Smith fled the scene after detectives attempted to arrest him. Police said Smith indicated he would turn himself in but has yet to do so. A nationwide arrest warrant was issued and a bond was set at $1 million. As of the time of writing, an arrest has yet to be made in the case.

This isn't the first time Smith has been the center of a controversy. In 2021, the "Are You the One?" star was arrested and charged with four felonies after he sexually assaulted a teenage girl. According to court documents obtained by The Times of Northwest Indiana, Smith allegedly forced a 16-year-old girl into a sexual act in his car and later took her to a hotel room and raped her. The case was later dropped after the victim stopped cooperating with the cops. 

Dustin Zito was arrested for sexual battery

Former "Real World: Las Vegas" star Dustin Zito made the news in 2013 — and it had nothing to do with his time on the show. The television personality was arrested in 2013 after a woman accused him of putting his hand underneath her dress at a Lafayette nightclub. The woman told police that the reality star had groped her while she was leaning over a cigarette machine, according to NBC affiliate KETK which was quoted by Us Weekly.

KETK reported that Zito drunkenly told police that the woman, "should be thankful that he reached up her dress since he is a TV star and several girls wish for that to happen to them." After resisting arrest and being sprayed with pepper spray, the reality star was charged with sexual battery, resisting arrest, remaining after being forbidden, and disturbing the peace by public intoxication.

Zito later made light of the incident by tweeting a screenshot from security footage that night. He also retweeted a fan's comment that read: "I honestly think the girl accusing @dustinzito of reaching up her skirt is probably just trying to get a little face time. That's Sh*tty Bar."