Ex-Miss Pennsylvania USA Sheena Monnin is asking for the public’s help in battling a $5 million judgment made against her after she claimed the Miss USA competition was rigged.
“This truth has cost me greatly,” she said in YouTube video released New Year’s Day. “I’m at a place where for me to continue to fight this injustice, I need your help. I am not financially able to continue to fight this on my own.”
A Cranberry resident, Monnin made national headlines in June after she resigned as Miss Pennsylvania USA just days after the televised Miss USA 2012 pageant took place. She then made a series of statements on her Facebook page that said the pageant was fixed.
Claiming a fellow contestant saw a list of the top five women in the pageant before judging began, Monnin also called the organization fraudulent, lacking in morals and trashy.
Donald Trump, co-owner of the Miss Universe organization, which runs the Miss USA pageant, took immediate legal action. He also publicly branded Monnin, who did not place in the pageant’s semifinals, a “sore loser.”
In an arbitration decision in December, retired US District Court Magistrate Judge Theodore H. Katz awarded the Miss Universe Organization $5 million in damages, ruling that Monnin defamed the organization.
“In essence, the judge is holding me financially responsible for the loss of a potential corporate sponsor for the 2013 Miss Universe competition,” Monnin said in the video. “The Miss Universe organization claimed that because of my statement, they have lost a potential corporate sponsor and that I am responsible to pay $5 million.”
Monnin also said her attorney told her she did not have to participate in mediation and that she was unaware the arbitration had taken place.
“The Miss Universe organization claimed that they mailed me a document with the arbitration hearing date in it,” she said. “I received no document. I was not notified than an arbitration hearing was proceeding.”
She also refused to back down from her claims the pageant is rigged.
Monnin said a clause in the organization’s contract that states the Miss Universe organization, Trump, and others have the legal right to choose the top five contestants and winner gives credibility to her claim the contest was rigged.
She also posted the arbitration decision document and an outline of issues she had with the findings on her support page.
“By their own words, in their contract, my statements are made completely plausible,” she said. “It is my opinion that the judgment contains factual errors, conjecture and partial truths to support its findings.”
Monnin added four fellow contestants contacted her after her resignation to say they also heard there was a list containing the five semifinalists prior to judging.
“One of those contestants told me she would come forward to corroborate my story, but she was afraid of being sued,” Monnin said in the video.
Monnin also blamed Trump and the Miss Universe organization for creating a “media frenzy” over her resignation by releasing public statements to news organizations
“My Facebook received no extra attention until they went to the media. I never once approached the media with this situation,” she said. “I did not seek out media attention.”
Monnin ended the video by pleading for support from the public in her upcoming legal battle. She also said she is searching for a new legal team to represent her in appealing the arbitration.
“I ask you to come alongside me and contribute to the legal defense fund that is being created,” she said, adding, “Together, we can fight this injustice.”