Donald Trump wins $5M in Miss USA defamation suit
An arbitrator has ruled that former Miss USA contestant Sheena Monnin must pay Donald Trump's Miss Universe Organization $5 million for defamation, saying she wrongly accused the group of rigging the pageant, says The Hollywood Reporter.
In a 19-page decision, retired U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Theodore H. Katz said, "Monnin knew that her statements were false and proceeded to publish them with actual malice." The Miss USA pageant is part of the Miss Universe Organization.
Trump said in a statement: "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 pageants. "While I feel very badly for Sheena, she did the wrong thing. She was really nasty, and we had no choice. It is an expensive lesson for her," Trump added.
Monnin's attorneys have not commented.
The Pennsylvania contestant complained of pageant manipulation within minutes of being eliminated from the Miss USA contest on June 3. "It's obviously rigged so the girl that they want can shine; they kept several beautiful girls out for that reason," she said.
Monnin resigned as Miss Pennsylvania the next morning, posting Facebook messages claiming another contestant had seen a list of the top five contestants. She repeated her allegations on NBC's "Today."
Katz determined that Monnin had claimed rigging "before she had any purported factual basis for her allegation."
Miss Universe 2012 airs live Wednesday night at 8 on NBC.