The question of who will wear the Miss North Carolina crown has become a federal case, as time nips at the high heels of two young women hoping to enter the Miss America contest.
Earlier this week, a Wake County, N.C. Superior Court Judge Narley Cashwell ruled that state pageant officials should recognize Rebekah Revels, who originally was named Miss North Carolina.
But the Miss America Organization has said it still recognizes Misty Clymer as Miss North Carolina. Clymer, a first runner-up, assumed the title after Revels gave it up. But Revels said she was forced to resign to avoid scandal over topless photos that an ex-boyfriend had taken of her without her consent.
After Clymer filed a suit to win back the crown, the state judge said the case was out of his jurisdiction. A hearing on the issue has been scheduled in federal court in Wilmington, N.C. today. Meanwhile, the preliminaries leading up to the Sept. 21 Miss America start today, and attorneys for both Revels and Clymer said their clients were flying to Philadelphia to participate.
The Final Hour
Revels told ABCNEWS' Good Morning America Thursday that she is very optimistic about being able to compete in the 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 state court Wednesday 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 women have contracts with the Miss North Carolina organization, a franchise subsidiary of the national Miss America organization.