Miss USA Organization seeks damages from ex-Miss Pennsylvania

Miss Pennsylvania Sheena Monnin resigns
Miss Pennsylvania Sheena Monnin competes during the 2012 Miss USA Presentation Show on May 30, 2012, in Las Vegas.
AP/Miss Universe Organization

(CBS/AP) PHILADELPHIA - The Miss Universe Organization is fighting back against continued allegations by a former beauty queen that the recent Miss USA pageant was rigged.

The pageant filed an arbitration action Friday, seeking damages, against the Miss Pennsylvania USA who resigned her crown this week amid claims that the finalists were chosen before the pageant even started.

Pictures: Miss USA 2012
Pictures: Miss USA contestants

Sheena Monnin repeated the claims in an interview Friday on NBC's "Today" show. She said a fellow contestant told her she saw a list of finalists hours before the pageant.

Miss Universe officials say Monnin actually resigned because organizers decided to admit transgender contestants.

Monnin said there are "myriad" reasons she stepped down but the list of finalists was her primary motivation.

A lawyer for pageant organizers say the action was filed with a private dispute entity named in the contestant contract.

Miss Rhode Island Olivia Culpo was crowned Miss Universe 2012 at the televised June 3 pageant in Las Vegas at which she was asked whether it was fair if a transgender woman won a beauty pageant title over a natural-born woman.

"I do think that that would be fair, but I can understand that people would be a little apprehensive to take that road," Culpo said.

The question was referring to a controversy in Canadaearlier this year when a transgender contestant was first barred from competing in the Miss Universe Canada pageant and later reinstated after the Miss Universe organization reaffirmed the rights of transgender women to compete.

Jointly owned by NBC Universal and Donald Trump, the Miss Universe Organization sponsors the Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants. It is not affiliated with the Miss America pageant.

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