Carrie Prejean, the beauty queen who was stripped of her Miss California crown in June, sued two Miss USA California officials on Monday, claiming that she lost her crown solely for her religious beliefs. She is seeking unspecified damages.
Prejean, a Miss USA finalist, fell into the national spotlight in June when celeb blogger Perez Hilton asked her a question about gay marriage.
"You can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage," Prejean replied. "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."
Officials stripped Prejean of the Miss California title in June for failing to make required appearances, and for making unsanctioned public appearances, Miss USA officials said.
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The lawsuit names Keith Lewis and Shanna Moakler, who were Miss USA California officials while Prejean was representing the organization, as well as publicist Roger Neal.
"This was a decision based solely on contract violations, including Ms. Prejean’s unwillingness to make appearances on behalf of the Miss California USA organization,” stated Miss Califronia USA director Keith Lewis at the time.
The suit's complaint for damages include:slander, libel, public disclosure of private facts, religious discrimination and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
"Over the past two months, we have worked hard to provide overwhelming evidence that Carrie Prejean did not violate her contract with Miss California USA and did not deserve to have her title revoked by Keith Lewis," said attorney Charles S. LiMandri, who is representing Prejean. "We will make the case that her title was taken from her solely because of her support of traditional marriage.”
Since Prejean was stripped of her crown, LiMandri said, "we have been working behind the scenes, trying to get Keith Lewis' people to do the right thing."
LiMandri said pageant officials accused his client of appearing at events without permission, specifically a Shape magazine interview, and hosting the show "Fox and Friends," but Limandri said pageant owner Donald Trump personally set those appearances for her and asked her to do them.
The Rancho Santa Fe attorney said the research he had undertaken since being hired "led us to conclude if she answered that question differently, she'd be probably Miss USA right now, but she would certainly be Miss California."
Prejean is doing fine these days, her attorney said, and will be doing some motivational speaking engagments. She has a book coming out in November, but there are no plans imminent for her to do any additional broadcasting work, which she has said was one of her goals.
"A lot of those opportunities seemed to have dried up, which is why we have to clear her name," LiMandri said.
Prejean is not speaking to the media about her case, her attorney said.
"There are legal issues requiring a level of expertise that she doesn't have," the 54-year-old attorney stated.
On Tuesday, Neal released a statement, saying, in part:
"I am a Christian advocate who raises awareness for MS.... That Ms. Prejean would say that I '... told her to not talk about her religious faith' is one of the many untruths in this lawsuit which will be proven. It’s a sad commentary that this Christian woman chooses to attack another Christian in this way. Every person of faith and morality should be outraged by her motives for this lawsuit. "
Neal also said he would be asking an attorney to file a motion to have Neal dismissed from the suit.