Former Miss Pennsylvania must pay Donald Trump $5 million, arbiter rules
A former Miss Pennsylvania USA 2012, who claimed a pageant was rigged, must pay billionaire Donald Trump $5 million for defaming the Miss Universe Organization, a New York arbitrator ruled.
Sheena Monnin, 27, of Cranberry in June resigned the state crown she won in December 2011. She accused Trump, the Miss USA Pageant's owner, of fixing the competition held in May in Las Vegas. Monnin claimed another contestant told her that she spotted a list of five finalists before the Top 15 selection began.
The raven-haired beauty queen then took to her Facebook page, calling the pageant “fraudulent, lacking in morals, inconsistent and in many ways trashy.”
The arbitrator, former U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Theodore H. Katz, said Monnin's statements were false and “showed a reckless disregard” for the truth.
Monnin, who did not participate in the arbitration, could not be reached for comment. Her lawyer, Richard Klineburger of Philadelphia, did not return calls.
Katz said in a decision signed last week that the method for judging the pageant “precludes any reasonable possibility that the judging was rigged.” He said Monnin was disgruntled about not making it past preliminary rounds and objected to the pageant's decision to allow transgender contestants.
According to Katz, Monnin's allegations on Facebook and NBC's “Today” show cost the pageant a $5 million fee from a potential 2013 sponsor. However, Katz did not require Monnin to remove the online comments and found no evidence that she deliberately tried to destroy the pageant.
Albert Bates, an arbitrator and partner at the Downtown law firm Duane Morris, said it's difficult to vacate an arbitration award, because nearly all of the limited grounds to do so require proving fraud or corruption by the arbitrator.
“It is a binding process,” Bates said.
Randy Sanders, director of the Miss Pennsylvania pageant, was Monnin's manager from December 2011 until she resigned and said he hasn't spoken to her since. Sanders said Monnin insulted everyone involved with the pageant.
“She was accusing every one of those people of going along with something. We're talking about hundreds and hundreds of employees. She was taking a swipe at all of them, including me,” Sanders said. “It was insulting.”
Trump, in a statement, called Monnin's actions “disgraceful.” The New York tycoon known nationally from his NBC television show “The Apprentice,” suggested she fabricated the story because of “loser's remorse.” Miss Rhode Island Olivia Culpo won the Miss USA title.
“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 said.
Paula Shugart, president of Miss Universe Organization, said she is pleased the integrity of the pageant remains intact.
“Ms. Monnin could have avoided all of this had she chosen to act responsibly, rather than seeking her 15 minutes of fame. Her reckless actions affected many people,” Shugart said.
Sanders said he's glad to live in a country where people can speak freely, but “you have to be selective in how much you excercise that right. You have to have your facts in order. I think this decision verifies that.”
The Associated Press contributed. Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-391-0927 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- South Butler students push composting as a way to slow food waste
- Amazon raises bar for other retailers with same-day delivery
- School lunch group hopes to revise rules it calls impractical, too restrictive
- Steelers notebook: Linebacker Timmons hoping for contract extension
- Western Pa. dairies get creative to ensure eggnog supply
- Holiday shopping season off to early start in Mon Valley
- Miami (Fla.) gets prepared to take on ‘physical’ Pitt team
- Penguins 4th line is showing promise
- Family-oriented mom treated each day as special
- Western Pa. students bristle at changing menu choices
- Chicago police videos of black teen McDonald’s death lack sounds; protests planned for ‘Black Friday’