Federal judge won't force Miss America to recognize N.C. queen

Thursday, September 12, 2002

WILMINGTON, N.C. -- A judge said Wednesday he wouldn't force the Miss America pageant to continue recognizing two Miss North Carolinas, but agreed to quickly decide whether one of the beauty queens voluntarily resigned.

U.S. District Court Judge James Fox denied Rebekah Revels' request to extend a state judge's order that had allowed her to join preliminary Miss America events in Atlantic City, N.J.

Revels sued last month, claiming she was forced to give up her crown in July when a former boyfriend told pageant officials he had two topless snapshots of her. Misty Clymer, the first runner-up, then assumed the title.

Fox said Wednesday he would try to make a decision Thursday afternoon, after closing arguments in Revels' case. The pageant ends Sept. 21.

George Bauer, interim president of the Miss America Organization, said after the hearing that Revels would not be removed immediately, despite the expiration of the state order Wednesday night. "The Miss America Organization will treat Rebekah Revels with every courtesy and treat her as a VIP guest," he said.

Fox has suggested to Barry Nakell, Revels' attorney, that she seek financial compensation if not allowed to compete. But Nakell has said there's not enough money to make up for not being allowed to compete in the Miss America pageant.

Fox told Nakell on Wednesday that his client's claim seems to rest with the state pageant.

"I fail to see where your client has a contract with the Miss America Organization," he said.

In testimony Wednesday, George Bauer, interim director of the Miss America organization, said it would be very difficult to continue with two contestants from North Carolina.

"That would create a very unequal playing field," he said.

Clymer has told the national pageant that she will sue if her contract is breached, and the National Association of Miss America State Pageants has said it will sue if both women compete, Bauer said.

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