Topless Photos Spark Beauty Pageant War

Two North Carolina beauty queens have taken their battle for the crown to federal court.

As the Miss America competition — the biggest beauty pageant of the year — approaches, one question remains — will it be Misty or Rebekah sporting the Miss North Carolina sash on the runway?

"There are two Miss North Carolinas right now," Misty Clymer said today on ABCNEWS' Good Morning America.

Clymer, the runner-up in the Miss North Carolina pageant, took over for the winner, Rebekah Revels, when Revels bowed out after her boyfriend revealed he had photos in which she appeared topless.

Now the winner wants her crown back. But her replacement doesn't want to give it up.

‘An Unusual Situation’

On Wednesday, state Superior Court Judge Narley Cashwell ruled that despite the photo controversy, she should keep the Miss North Carolina title. The very next day, in a court hearing to sort out conflicting claims from Revels and Clymer, Cashwell announced he no longer had jurisdiction because the case is now in federal court.

Miss America Pageant officials decided to take the dispute to federal court. They say they won't recognize Revels as Miss North Carolina — unless a federal judge rules otherwise.

After hearing arguments from both sides today, U.S. District Judge James Fox indicated a ruling might not come right away, saying that there is plenty of time for a proper hearing since the actual Miss America contest begins later this month.

Clymer says she has been acting as Miss North Carolina and fulfilling the standard beauty queen duties for a month now, and she wants to hold on to her chance to compete for the Miss America crown.

"It's an unusual situation," Clymer said.

"Whatever happens, happens. We've increased North Carolina's odds for getting into the top 10," she joked on Good Morning America.

Both Revels and Clymer plan to head to Philadelphia this weekend, where they hope to participate in preliminaries for the national pageant.

The Final Hour

Revels told Good Morning America on Thursday that she was very optimistic about being able to compete in the Miss America pageant. "I have a great case, a great lawyer and I think the judge will make the best decision," she said.

Revels, 24, gave up her Miss North Carolina tiara in July after learning that a former boyfriend had sent an e-mail to the Miss America organization, saying pageant officials should ask her about two nude photos.

Miss America pageant officials said that Revels resigned of her own free will, but she described it as sort of a pre-emptive strike. She felt that the pageant would not have let her compete because of what they perceived as a breach of the contract's moral clause.

Revels testified in Wednesday's court hearing that Tosh Welch, a former boyfriend, surprised her by taking two photographs of her while she was changing clothes. The photos depicted her nude from the waist up, and showed her breasts and her face.

In July, during an appearance on Good Morning America, Revels said she and Welch had a bitter breakup.

"We dated for quite some time, and I trusted him," Revels said. "And he used this [photo] against me at the point where he knew it was my breaking point, something to take away from me, something I had worked for my whole life because I hurt him."

Her court testimony disputed that of a pageant official, who said Revels told him the shots were taken during "an intimate situation" with no mention that she was an unwilling participant.

Cashwell ruled the snapshots didn't prove Revels had violated the pageant's requirement that winners exhibit good moral character.

Both Revels and Clymer have contracts with the Miss North Carolina organization, a franchise subsidiary of the national Miss America organization.

The Miss America competition will be held Sept. 21.

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