Original Miss N.C. Loses Tiara Tug of War

ByABC News via logo

Sept. 13, 2002 -- The North Carolina beauty queen who turned in her tiara over a topless photo scandal and then sought to reclaim her crown won't be allowed to compete in the Miss America pageant, organizers said Thursday.

The tiara tug of war between Rebekah Revels and Misty Clymer, who both claimed the title of Miss North Carolina, has been settled in favor of Clymer.

Both women joined ABCNEWS' Good Morning America Friday, saying they both supported one another, regardless of the outcome.

Meanwhile, after wishing Clymer the best of luck, Revels said she is still going forward with her lawsuit.

"We are still pursuing litigation and we still, yes, we do have a lawsuit against the Miss America organization, but I will continue to be Miss North Carolina," Revels said. "I was reinstated by the judge back in Raleigh [N.C.] and I look forward to carrying that year out," she said.

While Revels will get to serve as Miss North Carolina at home, Clymer will compete for the beauty queen top spot in Atlantic City, N.J."It's a bittersweet moment for me," Clymer said. "Of course, I was excited to be the sole representative of the North Carolina here but I was sad for Rebekah," she said.

Judge James Fox, sitting in U.S. District Court in Wilmington, N.C., earlier denied a motion that would have forced the Miss America Organization to recognize Revels, 24, as a contestant in its annual pageant. Fox said pageant officials could decide for themselves whether to include her in the competition, to be held Sept. 21 in Atlantic City, N.J.

Immediately after the ruling, the Miss America Organization said Clymer was the only Miss North Carolina.

"Misty Clymer is the contestant. Rebekah will not be competing in the finals," said George Bauer, interim president of the Miss America Organization.

However, Revels was still welcome to observe the contest, Bauer said.

"Rebekah will be our guest in Atlantic City," he said. "We'd like to continue her status as a VIP guest."

There was no immediate comment from either of the dueling beauty queens, but Revels' lawyer said earlier that he was "disappointed" in the judge's ruling.

The Battle of the Beauty Queens

Revels won the title of Miss North Carolina in the state's pageant, but resigned the title in July after an ex-boyfriend told pageant officials he had photos showing her topless.

Posing semi-nude could violate the morals clause the pageant requires contestants to sign. Revels stepped down, and first runner-up Clymer, 24, took over her role.

Then Revels had a change of heart. She sought to regain the title, saying pageant officials had pressured her into resigning. She also contends she did not pose for the pictures, but that her then-boyfriend surprised her when she was changing and snapped the photos.

But pageant officials — who maintain Revels resigned of her own free will — weren't inclined to recognize her as Miss North Carolina, and Clymer didn't want to surrender the crown.

"I signed a contract saying if I was named first runner-up, I would fulfill the duties if Miss North Carolina couldn't," said Clymer, who appeared with Revels on ABCNEWS' Good Morning America on Tuesday.

At the time, Revels said she felt for Clymer, too.

"I try imagining being in her shoes. I am sure she tried to imagine being in mine," Revels said. "We are trying to do the thing that is best for both of us."

Representing America?

Revels took her claim to court, and a state judge issued an injunction requiring Miss America pageant officials to allow her to competein preliminary contests in Atlantic City. The pageant then took the matter to federal court, where it ended up on Fox's docket.

The injunction requiring that Revels be included expired at midnight Wednesday. Fox had refused to extend the order, saying he would rule on the matter today.

Initially, state Superior Court Judge Narley Cashwell had said that the photos did not prove Revels had violated the pageant's requirement that winners exhibit good moral character.

Fox, the federal judge, did not rule on the morals issue, but he said the case was about more than which beauty queen should compete in the national pageant.

"The Miss America pageant over the years, by virtue largely ofits contestants, has become a significant part of Americana. In avery real sense, Miss America represents America," he said.

"There is a public interest in seeing that that image is nottarnished because if it is tarnished there will be fewercontestants, there will be fewer scholarships, there will be fewerideals to uphold," the judge said. "We are a country thatadmires bravery, courage and integrity. We instill it in ouryouth."

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