Miss Pennsylvania quits, calling Miss USA pageant rigged

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Miss Pennsylvania USA has stepped down from her position, citing dishonesty in last weekend's Miss USA pageant in Las Vegas, a claim the event's parent organization says is bogus.

Sheena Monnin, 27, called the Miss Universe Organization "fraudulent, lacking in morals, inconsistent, and in many ways trashy" in a post on her personal Facebook page. The Cranberry resident claims a fellow contestant told her that before the pageant began, she saw a list of five finalists in an open folder, names that later matched the judges' top five contestants.

In a statement, the Miss Universe Organization confirmed Ms. Monnin's resignation, but said she cited the organization's policy concerning transgender pageant contestants as her reason for stepping down.

"Today she has changed her story by publicly making false accusations claiming that the pageant was fixed," the organization's statement read.

The statement also included text from an email Ms. Monnin sent to Randy Sanders, her manager and director of the Miss Pennsylvania USA pageant, dated 7:25 a.m. PDT, Monday: "Randy, I am officially and irrevocably resigning the title of Miss Pennsylvania USA 2012. I refuse to be part of a pageant system that has so far and so completely removed itself from its foundational principles as to allow and support natural born males to compete in it," the email reads. "This goes against every moral fiber of my being."

Mr. Sanders said he talked with Ms. Monnin on April 13 about her concerns with the rule, enacted two months ago, that allows transgender women to compete in pageants, but he was surprised she resigned Monday. Asked whether he thought Ms. Monnin's charges were sour grapes over having lost the contest, Mr. Sanders said, "Yeah, I have to agree with that."

"Obviously I feel she believes it, and obviously I disagree with her," he said. "I do believe firmly that this was a fair, legitimate pageant."

The contestant Ms. Monnin said told her about the list has not spoken publicly.

Ms. Monnin said in her Facebook post that many people had sent her messages "requesting and at times demanding" she come forward with information regarding her abrupt resignation. As of Tuesday evening, scores of Facebook users have commented on Ms. Monnin's, many in support of her resignation.

"I agree that it is my moral obligation to state what I witnessed and what I know to be true," she wrote.

According to Ms. Monnin's post, after the top 16 finalists were named, the woman who allegedly saw the list "hesitantly said" to Ms. Monnin and another contestant that she knew who would be in the top five.

"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," Ms. Monnin wrote. She said the top five women named later were identical to those observed by the contestant.

state - lifestyle

Molly Born: mborn@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1944. First Published June 6, 2012 4:00 AM


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