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Miss USA Pageant Insiders Weigh in on Sheena Monnin Resignation — and Accusations


SHEENA MONNIN. Photo credit: Miss Universe Organization

Although he has worked closely with Sheena Monnin since she won the Miss Pennsylvania USA title in December, Randy Sanders, director of the state’s Miss USA pageant, says he can’t support her recent allegations against the organization that crowned her.

“I found her to always be a very thoughtful person,” he said Wednesday. “I was a bit surprised that she announced so early after the conclusion of the pageant her resignation. I wish her well, but I cannot agree with her reasoning.”

Monnin, of Cranberry, made headlines this week when she accused the Miss USA pageant, which aired Sunday, of being rigged.

The move earned her the ire of outspoken mogul—and Miss Universe co-owner—Donald Trump, who threatened to sue Monnin Wednesday during an interview on NBC’s Today show.

Trump told E! News he would not proceed with litigation seeking "massive damages" if Monnin apologizes in writing and withdraws her claims.

"Donald Trump believes in giving everyone a second chance, including Ms. Sheena Monnin," Michael D. Cohen, executive VP and special counsel to Trump, told E! News.

Monnin has not yet responded to Trump’s threats. However, on her Facebook page Wednesday afternoon, the 27-year-old beauty queen said she was considering which media outlet to grant an interview to. No one responded when Patch knocked on the door of Monnin’s family home in Cranberry Wednesday.

“Thank you for your encouragement, support, and kind words,” Monnin said on her Facebook page, which has more than tripled in the amount of friends over the last few days.

It was also on Facebook that Monnin, who describes her political views as "conservative," made her first shocking allegations against the Miss USA organization.

In two separate statements, which have since disappeared, Monnin claimed a fellow contestant in Sunday’s competition saw a list of the top five women in the pageant before judging began on the show.
She also called the organization fraudulent, lacking in morals and trashy.

“After 10 years of competing in a pageant system I once believed in, I now completely and irrevocably separate myself in every way and on every level from the Miss Universe Organization,” she said.

The Miss Universe Organization—which runs the Miss USA competition—quickly denounced Monnin’s allegations as false. In a statement to Cranberry Patch, the organization included an email Monnin sent to Sanders that said she was resigning because she did not agree with the organization's decision to admit transgendered contestants.

Sanders confirmed Monnin sent him her resignation early Monday morning—less than 24 hours after the pageant ended with Miss Rhode Island, Olivia Culpo, being crowned the winner.

It wasn't the first time Monnin expressed reservations over transgendered contestants. Sanders said Monnin shared concerns with him in April when the Miss Universe organization decided to allow natural-born males to enter pageants.

"We had a discussion about it at that point in time and she seemed to move forward from it," he said.

The move gave Canadian transgendered contestant Jenna Talackova, who faced disqualification, a chance to compete in the Miss Universe pageant.

Still, Saunders said he was taken off guard by Monnin’s resignation Monday, and even more so when he read the statements she made later than day on her Facebook page.

 “I was surprised to see two different types of resignations, let's put it that way,” he said.

He dismissed Monnin’s accusations that the competition is fixed as “ludicrous” and “impossible.” He noted judging for the Miss USA pageant is heavily monitored and that acounting giant Ernst & Young audits the voting. 

“I have complete confidence the pageant was not rigged,” he said.

A former Miss Pennsylvania USA herself, Cranberry resident Linda Andreassi, who retains close ties to the organization, said she has had nothing but positive experiences with Miss USA. In the years since she was crowned Miss Pennsylvania USA, Andreassi has worked as a state pageant coordinator, judge and consultant

While the competition itself was thrilling, Andreassi said she found the most joy in working at charity events and championing various nonprofit organizations. She was disappointed Monnin will not be doing the same.

“It is unfortunate that Miss Pennsylvania was unable to return from Miss USA and refocus her efforts on fulfilling these duties; there are many young women who would have loved the opportunity she was given,” she said. “I’m simply disappointed that this wasn’t handled with greater appreciation for the title and crown or more consideration given to those at the state office who helped her make it to the national stage.”

As for who will fill Monnin’s high heels, Sanders didn’t have an anawer.

Valerie Compeggie, the first runner up in the Miss USA Pennsylvania 2012 competition, already has turned down the opportunity to serve out the rest of Monnin’s reign because it would disqualify her from competing in next year’s Miss USA pageant, Sanders said.

The state director said he also has approached the second and third runners up in the Miss Pennsylvania 2012 contest, but added there is a strong possibly the position will remain vacant.

If that happens, Sanders said Miss Teen Pennsylvania 2012, Julia Belechak, who also hails from Cranberry, would take over Monnin’s scheduled events.

“She is a tremendous young woman who can handle any appearance that we have on the calendar,” Sanders said of Belechak. “I’m really not too worried about our situation.”

SOURCE: Northhills.patch.com, 6/7/2012

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