A federal judge in New York has upheld an arbitrator’s ruling that a Pennsylvania beauty queen must pay the Miss USA pageant $5 million for defaming Donald Trump’s pageant organization.
Sheena Monnin, who participated in 2012 Miss USA, claimed that the pageant of choosing the winners ahead of time. She launched the allegation along with an announcement of her giving up her post as Miss Pennsylvania.
In a Facebook posting, Ms. Monnin stood by her original claims. She also said her legal fees alone topped $50,000 and solicited financial donations.
“The legal fees for standing for truth amount to over $50, 000,” writes Monnin on her Facebook page.
“I still need to raise money for my legal defense fund. I would greatly appreciate any and all donations.”
The 30-page ruling from Judge J. Paul Oetken upheld an arbitration award against Monnin for her angry rants after finishing back in the swimsuit-wearing pack at last year’s Miss USA Pageant, writes the NY Daily News.
“The court does not take lightly that Monnin is compelled to pay what is a devastating monetary award,” Oetken wrote in his Tuesday decision.
“Moreover, Monnin undeniable is suffering from her poor choice of counsel … (But) sympathy, or apparent inequity, may play no role in a court’s legal analysis, and here, the law is clear.”
Monnin, on her Facebook page, said she was disappointed with the decision — but suggested a federal probe of the pageant was ongoing.
“Last June, I was contacted by a Federal Investigator wanting an interview with me to discuss possible fraudulent activities by the (pageant),” she wrote.
Trump’s lawyer said he applauded the judge’s decision but was surprised Monnin stood by her story.
“I’m shocked to see that she has yet to learn her lesson. I thought she would be smarter the second time around,” attorney Michael Cohen said.
The legal battle began after Ms. Monnin, while competing in Miss USA 2012 last June, claimed that another contestant had learned the names of the Miss USA competitors who finished in the top five, before the show was even broadcast.
In a Facebook post announcing her resignation, she wrote: “Apparently the morning of June 3rd [Karina Brez] saw a folder lying open to a page that said ‘FINAL SHOW Telecast, June 3, 2012’ and she saw the places for Top 5 already filled in.
“After the Top 16 were called and we were standing backstage she hesitantly said to me and another contestant that she knew who the Top 5 were. I said ‘who do you think they will be?’ She said that she didn’t ‘think’ she ‘knew’ because she saw the list that morning.
“She relayed whose names were on the list. Then we agreed to wait and see if that was indeed the Top 5 called that night. After it was indeed the Top 5 I knew the show must be rigged.”
Donald Trump also denied the claims and proceeded with the lawsuit against Monnin, who he believed was suffering ‘loser’s remorse’.
Pageant organizers claimed Ms. Monnin had resigned not over the results, but because she disagreed with a decision to allow transgender contestants.
Accounting firm Ernst & Young, which tabulates the judges’ scores, insisted during last year’s controversy that the pageant was not rigged, says the BBC News.