Former Miss Calif. Sues Over Defamation, Religious Discrimination

Former Miss California USA Carrie Prejean filed a lawsuit against pageant officials for libel, slander, and religious discrimination on Monday, nearly three months after the crown was taken from her for reasons she says isn't true.

While pageant executive director Keith Lewis and former co-director Shanna Moakler said Prejean was fired in June strictly based on her failure to fulfill obligations outlined in her contract, Prejean's attorney, Chuck LiMandri insists that the Southern California beauty queen was dismissed because of the highly publicized response she gave in April during the Miss USA pageant.

"There were no contract violations," he said after finding no proof that Prejean missed scheduled appearances, as pageant officials had claimed.

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Prejean had made headlines since famously saying she believes marriage should be between a man and a woman in response to a question asked by celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton. The comments were believed to have cost Prejean the Miss USA title and sparked a flurry of responses – both positive and negative.

Adding to the media firestorm later were the unauthorized releases of photos showing Prejean in compromising poses, which Miss Universe Organization co-owner Donald Trump later deemed "acceptable, fine, and in some cases ... lovely."

Less than a month after Trump decided to allow Prejean to keep the Miss California USA title, the real estate mogul and pageant officials announced their decision to terminate Prejean, saying it was based "solely on contract violations including Ms. Prejean's unwillingness to make appearances on behalf of the Miss California USA organization."

"After our press conference in New York we had hoped we would be able to forge a better working relationship ," stated Lewis. "However, since that time it has become abundantly clear that Carrie is unwilling to fulfill her obligations under our contract and work together."

Trump, meanwhile, said he told Prejean she needed to get back to work and honor her contract with the Miss California USA Organization "and I gave her the opportunity to do so."

"Unfortunately it just doesn't look like it is going to happen and I offered Keith my full support in making this decision," he added. "Carrie is a beautiful young woman and I wish her well as she pursues her other interests."

While Trump is not named in Prejean's lawsuit, the beauty queen does mention in the suit that 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 lawsuit accuses Lewis, Moakler and Roger Neal, who handles press for Miss California USA and Lewis, of using Internet sites such as Facebook and Twitter to post disparaging remarks about Prejean.

The suit also claims Moakler and Lewis improperly revealed that Miss California USA had paid for Prejean's breast implants and that 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 complaint does not state a specific dollar figure that Prejean is seeking but claims she has been subject to public ridicule and humiliation and lost out on modeling work because she lost her crown.

The 22-year-old beauty queen has also suffered anxiety, depression and loss of sleep since her firing, the lawsuit states.

According to conservative publisher Regnery Publishing, Prejean plans to come out with a tell-all book this fall in which "she will tell her side of the story, answering such questions as what happened behind the scenes at the pageant, why she answered the Perez Hilton question as she did, what really led to her losing the Miss California crown, and how she has been forced to battle the left's double-standard on free speech and the bias against conservatives – particularly conservative women – who stand up for their beliefs."

After Prejean was stripped of her crown, the Miss California organization crowned the pageant's first runner-up, Tami Farrell, who also said she believes marriage should be between a man and a woman.

The next Miss California will be determined on Nov. 22 at a competition held in Palm Springs.

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