clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Former Miss California sues over firing

Carrie Prejean
Carrie Prejean
Denis Poroy, Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — Former Miss California USA Carrie Prejean sued pageant officials Monday for libel, slander and religious discrimination, accusing them of telling her to stop mentioning God even before her controversial remarks against gay marriage.

Prejean sued California pageant executive director Keith Lewis and actress and former Miss USA Shanna Moakler, who served as a co-director before resigning in protest of Prejean.

Prejean was fired in June by pageant officials who said she missed several scheduled appearances.

Her attorney, Chuck LiMandri, said that wasn't true, and Prejean was ousted because of controversial remarks in April during the Miss USA pageant that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

She was named first runner-up, and many believe she lost her shot at the Miss USA crown because of her answer.

LiMandri said Prejean filed suit only after he sought detailed information on what events Prejean missed.

"I wanted to give them every opportunity to provide the basis for those claims," LiMandri said.

He said he found no proof that Prejean missed events. "There were no contract violations," he said.

The lawsuit claims Lewis and Moakler both told Prejean not to mention God on her Miss USA application or at public events at least two months before she gave her anti-gay marriage answer.

The suit also claims Moakler and Lewis improperly revealed that Miss California USA had paid for Prejean's breast implants.

Moakler's attorney, Mel Avanzando, said in a statement that Prejean's lawsuit was without merit.

"More importantly, as everyone who watched or read her public statements is well aware, Ms. Prejean's unfortunate and bigoted statements are responsible for any public humiliation or damages to her reputation that she has claimed to have suffered," Avanzando wrote. "Ms. Moakler strenuously denies that she did anything wrong and looks forward to proving that in a court of law."

Prejean is also suing publicist Roger Neal, who handles press for Miss California USA and Lewis.

Neal said he could not immediately comment on the lawsuit.

The lawsuit accuses Lewis, Moakler and Neal of using Internet sites such as Facebook and Twitter to post disparaging remarks about Prejean.

The lawsuit does not name Donald Trump, who owns Miss California USA's parent organization and who in May refused to fire Prejean, a decision he reversed a month later.

The suit states Trump authorized Prejean's appearance on the "Fox and Friends" show in May and a Shape magazine interview, both of which were sighted by Lewis as unauthorized public appearances by the beauty queen.

The complaint does not state a specific dollar figure that Prejean is seeking. It claims she has been subject to public ridicule and humiliation and lost out on modeling work because she lost her crown. She has also suffered anxiety, depression and loss of sleep since her firing, the lawsuit states.