Judge upholds defamation ruling vs. Pa. beauty queen

2013-07-06T00:00:00Z Judge upholds defamation ruling vs. Pa. beauty queenThe Associated Press The Associated Press
July 06, 2013 12:00 am  • 

NEW YORK - 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 resigned as Miss Pennsylvania last year, saying the Miss USA contest was rigged. She claimed another contestant learned the names of the top five finishers hours before the show was broadcast. Monnin said she decided to turn in her crown as soon as those same contestants were named during the show.

She posted messages on Facebook and spoke publicly about her claims. Trump's Miss Universe Organization sued Monnin for defamation, and an arbitrator ruled against her in December. The arbitrator said Monnin's allegations cost the pageant a $5 million fee from a potential 2013 sponsor.

U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken upheld the arbitrator's decision this week. Monnin had sought to have it overturned based on three grounds: The arbitrator overstepped his authority, his decision disregarded law, and she didn't know the arbitration hearing was taking place. The judge disagreed.

Monnin, of Cranberry, in northwestern Pennsylvania, said on Facebook Thursday that she is glad the truth is out there, regardless of the outcome.

Pageant organizers said Monnin resigned because she disagreed with a decision to allow transgender contestants. They made public text from an email they said Monnin sent citing the decision to allow natural-born males into the competition as the reason for her resignation.

Monnin wrote on Facebook that her legal fees are more than $50,000 and she needed financial support. She included a link for donations.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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