Donald Trump's Miss Universe Organization Wins Defamation Suit Against Former Miss USA Contestant

Dec 18, 2012, 11:57 ET from Miss Universe Organization

NEW YORK, Dec. 18, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Donald Trump's Miss Universe Organization secured a decisive victory in its defamation suit against the former Miss Pennsylvania USA contestant who publicly accused the Organization of rigging the results of the Miss USA pageant.  Earlier this year, after failing to secure a spot in the semi-finals of the nationally televised Miss USA pageant, Sheena Monnin, the contestant from Pennsylvania, began a slanderous campaign alleging that the results of the pageant were pre-determined.  These allegations have now been legally discredited. 

In the days after the pageant Monnin made several damaging public comments asserting she had irrefutable proof the pageant was rigged, and that she would not be deterred in her "quest for the truth."  Despite this claim, Monnin refused offers by the Miss Universe Organization to demonstrate the integrity of the voting process, instead choosing to seek publicity through national media outlets.  In response, the Miss Universe Organization filed an arbitration action in New York. 

Pageant owner, Donald Trump, called Monnin's actions "disgraceful" and added "we cannot allow a disgruntled contestant to make false and reckless statements which are damaging to the many people who have devoted their hearts and souls to the Miss UNIVERSE, Miss USA and Miss TEEN USA pageant systems."

After considering all of the testimony and other evidence presented, former United States District Court Magistrate Judge, The Honorable Theodore H. Katz issued an opinion concluding that Monnin defamed the Miss Universe Organization and awarding $5 million in damages. 

The opinion finds that "the method in which the Miss USA Pageant is judged . . . precludes any reasonable possibility that the judging was rigged."  Judge Katz stated that Monnin's "defamatory statements" about the Organization "were false," "showed a reckless disregard" for the facts, and were "harmful to [the Organization's] business reputation."  As a result of this clear showing of defamation, the Arbitrator concluded that the Organization was entitled to $5 million in damages.

"We are pleased that the integrity of the Miss USA pageant remains intact," says Paula Shugart, President of the Miss Universe Organization.  "We were always confident in what the outcome would be as the truth was on our side.  Ms. Monnin could have avoided all of this had she chosen to act responsibly rather than seeking her 15 minutes of fame.  Her reckless actions affected many people, including our state directors, the young women who participate in our system and Miss USA Olivia Culpo, who was the rightful winner of the pageant.  We simply could not sit idly by and not take action while she pursued her personal agenda to the detriment of everyone affiliated with our company." 

Culpo will compete as Miss USA during the worldwide telecast of the 2012 Miss UNIVERSE pageant airing live from the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, this Wednesday, December 19th at 8PM ET on NBC.

SOURCE Miss Universe Organization