Donald Trump Lets Miss California Keep Crown

Trump calls semi-nude photos "lovely;" Carrie Prejean says she was "punished."

ByABC News
April 28, 2009, 6:56 PM

May 12, 2009 — -- Donald Trump's not letting a slew of semi-nude photos and conservative beliefs stop Carrie Prejean from being Miss California USA.

The real estate mogul and co-owner of the Miss USA organization announced Tuesday that the scandalized beauty queen, who spoke out against "opposite marriage" at the 2009 Miss USA pageant, igniting a fire storm of scrutiny about her stance on gay marriage and her modeling career, will keep her crown.

"[Prejean] gave a very, very honest answer when asked a very tough answer at a recent pageant. It's the same answer that the President of the United States gave. It's the same answer that many people gave," Trump said. "If her beauty wasn't so great, nobody really would've cared."

About the 21-year-old beauty queen's semi-nude photographs, more of which appeared online Tuesday, Trump said, "We have determined that the pictures taken are fine. ... In many cases, they were very lovely pictures."

Prejean spoke after Trump, thanking the organizations behind the pageant along with her family and her supporters. Without mentioning his name, she lashed out at Perez Hilton, the Miss USA pageant judge who asked what she thought of same sex marriage on April 19.

"Three weeks ago I was asked a politically charged question with a hidden personal agenda," Prejean said. "I was given a question asking for my opinion and I stated my personal belief. Immediately after the pageant, judge no. 8 began a cultural fire storm in the media ... he was trying to be self promoting and hateful."

"On April 19 on that stage, I exercised my freedom of speech," Prejean continued, fighting back tears. "And I was punished for doing so. This should not happen in America."

Despite feeling like she was unfairly victimized, Prejean said she forgives Hilton and everyone who criticized her following the pageant. Asked to respond to Prejean's statement, Hilton said simply, "She forgives me and I forgive her."

Ahead of Tuesday's news conference, Prejean's mother, Francine, came out in defense of her daughter, telling the blog that the beauty queen is "being persecuted for speaking her opinion" about gay marriage. Prejean also told Christian radio host Dr. James Dobson that Satan tried to tempt her with a question about gay marriage at the Miss USA pageant.

Since the question-and-answer session from that pageant that thrust her into the spotlight, Prejean's story has evolved so fast that it's hard to keep track of all the details. This should help clear things up. Below, a time line of the controversy surrounding Carrie Prejean, from the Miss USA 2009 pageant to today.

April 19: Pageant judge Perez Hilton asks Prejean, "Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same-sex marriage. Do you think every state should follow suit, why or why not?" Prejean replies, "I think it's great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. And you know what? I think in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that's how I was raised."

April 19: Following the pageant, Hilton posted a video on his blog condemning Prejean's answer and calling her a "dumb b****." He later apologized in the blog, offering to take Prejean out for coffee and a "talk."