“I know what I heard, and I know what I in turn witnessed come true based on what I heard the contestant said she saw the list, so I’m prepared to continue to march forward, said Sheena Monnin, referring to fraud in the Miss USA 2012 pageant. Photo courtesy of the Support Sheena Monnin Facebook page.

Miss Pennsylvania Sheena Monnin spoke out on Friday about why she chose to resign from the Miss Universe Organization after competing in the 2012 Miss USA competition. An injustice has been done, she told The Today Show host Ann Curry. However, Donald Trump is not taking her allegations lying down. The Miss Universe Organization co-owner plans to move ahead with a defamation lawsuit. 

Sheena Monnin announced her resignation from the Miss Universe Organization, stating: Effective immediately I have voluntarily, completely, and utterly removed myself from the Miss Universe Organization. In good conscience I can no longer be affiliated in any way with an organization I consider to be fraudulent, lacking in morals, inconsistent, and in many ways trashy. I do not support this system in any way. In my heart I believe in honesty, fair play, a fair opportunity, and high moral integrity, none of which in my opinion are part of this pageant system any longer.

After being pressed for more information, the 27-year-old asserted that fraud was behind her resignation. Monnin claims that Miss Florida, Karina Brez, saw a list of the top five final contestants before the top 16 Miss USA contestants were even narrowed down on June 3.

Donald Trump vowed to sue Monnin, saying, She made a very false charge and she knows it was a false charge. I think that, frankly, she should apologize but we will be bringing a lawsuit against her. Adding, It's absolutely ridiculous.  She lost and if you look at her compared to the people who were in the top 15, you would understand why she's not in the top 15. It's a very, very sad situation.

But, Sheena Monnin is sticking to her story and will continue to pursue the truth.

I feel disappointed that (Trump) has made some of the statements that he said about me, and I feel prepared to continue to pursue the truth,'' Monnin said on Today Friday. I know what I heard, and I know what I in turn witnessed come true based on what I heard the contestant said she saw the list, so I'm prepared to continue to march forward.''

In a statement released through the Miss Universe Organization, Brez said that mentioning the top-five list was a throwaway comment and never meant as fact. Adding that she thinks Monnin is using this situation for her own ends.'' 

I know what I heard,'' Monnin told Ann Curry. There's no doubt in my mind that the contestant was serious when she laid out what she said she saw, and I believe her to be true. I have many years of psychological training. I know when someone's telling a joke, I know when someone's scared and when someone's serious, and in my opinion her body language was very serious. She looked a little bit scared because she had just seen something that would potentially, drastically change the reputation of the Miss Universe Organization. This is a big deal.''


Olivia Culpo, Miss Rhode Island, was crowned Miss USA 2012 on June 3. She openly voiced her support for transgender contestants during the contest. Photo courtesy of the Miss USA 2012 Facebook fan page.

Monnin did not react to the information Brez disclosed immediately on the night of the 2012 Miss USA competition. She waited until the top five beauty queens were called and, when the top five were announced in the order Brez reportedly outlined to her, she felt that was a glaring red flag.

There are many reasons that a list could be laying around with the top five names, but when the names were called out in the order that she said she saw them on the list, that's just too coincidental to not be true,'' said Monnin, who was cut from the top 16.

I still feel that strong reaction because I feel an injustice has been done, not only to the other people who were not in the top five but to the thousands of pageant girls across the country who competed believing this is an honest system.

When the media first learned of Monnin's allegations, the Miss Universe Organization stated that Miss Pennsylvani had offered a conflicting reasons for her resignation.   

In a statement sent to the Miss Universe Organization on Monday, Monnin cited the organization's acceptance of transgender contestants as the reason behind her leaving. Transgender beauty queen Jenna Talackova, was granted permission to compete in the Miss Universe Canada pageant after a heated national debate.

I am officially and irrevocably resigning the title of Miss Pennsylvania USA 2012, wrote Monnin. I refuse to be part of a pageant system that has so far and so completely removed itself from its foundational principles as to allow and support natural born males to compete in it. This goes against ever moral fiber of my being. I believe in integrity, high moral character, and fair play, none of which are part of this system any longer.


Sheena Monnin speaks with The TODAY Show host Ann Curry about her resignation. Photo screen grab from NBC.

On Friday, Monnin clarified, saying, There are myriad reasons why I resigned. That is an issue that I discussed with my state director back in April.''

Donald Trump offered Sheena Monnin a second chance on Wednesday, saying that if she publicly and withdrew her claim that the Miss USA competition was rigged he would not proceed with legal action. Monnin never offered an apology.

My message is very simple: I would like the truth to be made known,'' she said. I am not here to destroy anyone, I am not here to bad talk about anybody. In my opinion, what Miss Florida said is true. There's really no doubt in my mind. It's just too much evidence pointing this being fraudulent.''

The 2012 Miss USA winner, Rhode Island's Olivia Culpo, offered her own response to Monnin.

Miss Pennsylvania, like any other person, is entitled to their own opinions. I respect her opinions, but I am upset for her that she will not have the opportunity of being Miss Pennsylvania USA, Culpo told the Boston Herald. I feel for her that she has to give up that title, but everyone is entitled to their own opinions.

TMZ reported that Trump's lawyers are currently drafting up a defamation lawsuit.