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Anti-trans beauty queen forced to pay $5M for defaming Trump's Miss USA pageant

A Pennsylvania beauty queen who resigned after alleging that the Miss USA pageant had been fixed says she’s stunned by an arbitrator’s ruling that she must pay the pageant organization $5 million for defamation.

Former Miss Pennsylvania USA Sheena Monnin told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that she was “shocked that was ruled against me, frankly.” She added that the “most logical course of action” would be to contest the ruling, but she’s considering her options.

In a decision earlier this month, arbitrator Theodore Katz said Monnin’s allegations that the five finalists had been selected in advance of the pageant’s live telecast in May were false, harmful and malicious. He also said the allegations on Facebook and NBC’s “Today” show cost the pageant a $5 million fee from a potential 2013 sponsor.

Katz called Monnin, who resigned her state title after the pageant, “a disgruntled contestant” who did not make it past the preliminary competition and objected to the pageant’s decision to allow transgender contestants. He wrote that the way the contest is judged “precludes any reasonable possibility that the judging was rigged.”

Monnin, of Cranberry, Pa., wrote on her Facebook page last week that her father had recently pointed out a clause in the Miss USA contract gives top pageant officials the power to pick the top five finalists and the winner.

“I was not aware of the clause in the Miss USA contract which says that the Miss Universe Organization, Donald Trump and others have the legal right to choose the top five and winner,” Monnin wrote. “This is irrespective of any publicized selection process.”

Michael Cohen, executive vice president and special counsel to Trump, told the paper on Saturday that the clause is part of contracts signed by pageant contestants and described it as a catch-all.

“It’s protection for the Miss Universe pageant and its owners,” Cohen said. “It has never been used. The judge’s decisions have never been overruled by Mr. Trump, NBC or the Miss Universe Organization.”

The Trump-owned Miss Universe Organization, which runs Miss USA, said Saturday that Monnin’s “blatant disregard of the truth is in direct contradiction to the person she is attempting to present to the public.”

“They’re saying it’s a blatant disregard of the truth, but the truth is right here in the contract,” Monnin said.

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