PITTSBURGH - Sheena Monnin, the former Miss Pennsylvania USA 2012 who resigned in June after claiming a pageant was rigged, must pay billionaire Donald Trump $5 million for defaming the Miss Universe Organization, a New York arbitrator ruled.
The arbitrator, former U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Theodore H. Katz, said Monnin‘s statements about the Miss USA Pageant “were false” and “showed a reckless disregard.”
Monnin, of Cranberry, could not be reached. Her lawyer, Richard Klineburger of Philadelphia, did not return calls.
Monnin claimed another contestant told her that she spotted a list of five finalists backstage — before selection for the Top 15 began. She called the pageant “fraudulent, lacking in morals, inconsistent, and in many ways trashy” on her Facebook page in June.
“In my heart I believe in honesty, fair play, a fair opportunity, and high moral integrity, none of which in my opinion are part of this pageant system any longer,” she wrote.
Trump, the businessman known nationally from his NBC television show “The Apprentice,” suggested Monnin fabricated the story because of “loser‘s remorse.”
Miss Rhode Island Olivia Culpo won the Miss USA title.
“Going to arbitration was the appropriate action to take under the circumstances, and while I feel very badly for Sheena, she did the wrong thing. She was really nasty and we had no choice. It is an expensive lesson for her,” Trump said in a statement.
Randy Sanders, director of the Miss Pennsylvania pageant, was Monnin‘s manager from December 2011 until she resigned. He said he hasn‘t spoken to the raven-haired beauty queen since.
Sanders said Monnin insulted everyone who helps produce the pageant.
“She was accusing every one of those people of going along with something. We‘re talking about hundreds and hundreds of employees. She was taking a swipe at all of them, including me,” Sanders said. “It was insulting to me and to everyone who puts so much time into the events we try to produce.”
Sanders said he‘s glad to live in a country where people can speak freely but “you have to be selective in how much you exercise that right. You have to have your facts in order. I think this decision verifies that.”
This article was written by Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE.