Local News

Battle Over Miss North Carolina Heads To Court

Posted August 30, 2002

— Rebekah Revels has the title of Miss North Carolina again for now. She said she will not know until Tuesday if she will keep the crown for good.

Thursday, a Wake County Superior Court judge issued a temporary restraining order reinstating Revels as Miss North Carolina. A court hearing Tuesday will determine who represents the state in the Miss America pageant.

"I'm not worried. I'm anxious. I wish tomorrow was Tuesday," she said Friday, where she was back at work at her St. Pauls High School classroom grading papers.

Revels, 24, said she was forced to resign last month after topless pictures taken by a former fiance surfaced.

An e-mail excerpt sent to Tom O'Rourke, of the Miss America organization by Revels' former fiance, Tosh Welch, reads:

"Would character criteria include a contestant's background? For instance, a contestant has lived/shared a residence with a male non-relative disqualify them. Or perhaps questionable photographs? Would you want to be represented by someone with a past? Nude pics of Miss America bring in big bucks nowawdays."

Pageants officials have insisted Revels voluntarily resigned.

"I did resign, but initially I was terminated, and I assume maybe because of that [the judge] reinstated me," Revels said.

Revels said she and her family decided to fight for the title because she won it outright. She said she hopes standing up for what she believes will send a message to everyone, including Welch.

"I hope he knows what he did will not hold me back and pull me down, and hopefully it will be positive for him too," Revels said.

In a lawsuit filed Thursday in Superior Court, Revels accused the state pageant of breaching her contract by terminating her without cause.

"Her resignation is not valid. They already terminated her, so there's nothing to terminate. Her resignation was coerced," said Barry Nakell, Revels' lawyer.

Misty Clymer, of Raleigh, the first runner-up in the Miss North Carolina contest, assumed the title July 23 after Revels resigned.

Clymer, who was meeting with state lawmakers at the same time the judge reinstated Revels, said she is trying to remain focused on the upcoming Miss America pageant.

Revels' attorney claims his client has suffered irreparable harm and deserves the title.

"The title of Miss North Carolina is a unique property. There's no way to replace it. It's available only to one person every year," Nakell said.

Attorneys for the Miss North Carolina Pageant, Revels and Clymer may be trying to work out some kind of agreement.

"She is in a very sticky situation and I know what she is going through. I've been there. I hope for the best. I hope we can even become friends," Revels said.

Officials said no formal complaint has been filed against Welch. Preliminary events of the Miss America pageant get under way Sept. 6.

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