Local News

Revels, Clymer To Participate In Preliminary Miss America Activities

Posted September 9, 2002

— As both women who claim to be Miss North Carolina participate in preliminary Miss America activities in Philadelphia this weekend, the federal judge hearing the dispute says he will not have a ruling in the case until possibly next week.

U.S. District Judge James Fox said in a hearing Friday morning that he does not think the dispute can be settled until next week. Another hearing has been scheduled for 9 a.m. Monday.

Fox said it is not realistic to think there can be two Miss North Carolina contestants in the pageant. Because the case will likely go to trial, Fox is asking the Miss America organization, a non-profit agency, to come up with a $1 million bond so damages will be in place if Rebekah Revels decides to sue the pageant for breach of contract. In this instance, it may clear the way for first runner-up Misty Clymer to solely represent the state in the pageant.

However, Barry Nakell, Revels' attorney, said that plan is not acceptable.

"We think the opportunity to participate in the Miss America pageant, to be Miss America, to serve as Miss America, is an unique opportunity that gives Rebekah Revels a variety of benefits, a multitude of benefits, that will be very hard to evaluate if she is not allowed to compete," Nakell said.

There is a chance that Revels may have to leave pageant activities in Philadelphia and return to North Carolina to testify.

The Miss America Organization released a statement Thursday afternoon, saying it will not recognize Revels as Miss North Carolina until her case is heard in federal court in Wilmington.

George Bauer, acting chief executive officer for the pageant, issued a statement, saying that Clymer has a contract with the organization to represent North Carolina.

"When Rebekah Revels resigned as Miss North Carolina on July 23, 2002, she invalidated her contestant contract. As a result, the Miss America Organization entered into a contract with her first runner-up, Misty Clymer. By virtue of that contract, Ms. Clymer has current status as Miss North Carolina. It appears as though the matter will be heard in federal court tomorrow, and until such time as the national Organization is told otherwise, we will honor our existing contract with Ms. Clymer."

Superior Court Judge Narley Cashwell, who heard the case in Wake County during the past two days, told the court he no longer has jurisdiction.

Greenville attorney Tim Barber told the court an order was entered in federal court in Wilmington Thursday to transfer the case from state court.

Rebekah Revels' contract as Miss North Carolina was reinstated Wednesday, but Misty Clymer said she still has a contract with Miss North Carolina as well.

"North Carolina has two Miss North Carolinas right now, but Miss America has only approved one contestant and that's me," Clymer said.

The Miss America pageant is important for both Revels and Clymer since this is their last year of eligibility.

Revels' attorney, Barry Nakell, said under a temporary restraining order issued in Robeson County, the Miss America organization must recognize Revels as a candidate for 10 days, which is until Wednesday, Sept. 11.

Nakell said he hopes his suit against the Miss America organization, can be heard before then.

Meanwhile, attorneys for both Revels and Clymer said their clients are preparing to fly to Philadelphia, where they must be by 6 p.m. Friday to participate in preliminaries for the national pageant.

"That's part of being a Miss America contestant, being able to speak and react on the drop of a hat. I am completely prepared and able to be in Philadelphia tomorrow evening," Clymer said Thursday morning.

Gov. Mike Easley said he hopes to see the current Miss North Carolina controversy resolved soon, so the candidate will represent the state to the best of her ability.

"I hope the situation will resolve itself, hopefully outside of court and hopefully, we all go forward and are proud of our state and those who represent us," Easley said.

Wednesday, Cashwell extended the reign of Revels, who won the state pageant in June but resigned a month later after pageant officials learned of possible topless photos of her.

Cashwell ruled photos taken by Revels' former fiance did not violate her contract with the state pageant.

"She did not engage in an act or activity which could be characterized as dishonest, immoral, modest, indecent or in bad taste," he said.

The crown and title were returned to Revels.

"I feel wonderful, elated. I feel like justice has been served. This is probably the happiest day of my life," she said.

Revels went to court Thursday fighting for a ruling requiring the Miss America organization to allow her to compete in the Miss America pageant.

Right now, the Miss America organization recognizes Clymer as North Carolina's representative. Clymer's picture even appears in the Miss America program.

Clymer is not ready to give up her fight to represent the state in the national pageant.

"At this point, she's the only person in this state that has a contract with Miss America that says she's eligible to participate. Miss America has determined that Miss Revels is ineligible," said Janet Ward Black, Misty Clymer's attorney.

So what happens if the judge rules Thursday that Revels is also eligible to compete in Miss America?

"Then you would have two women from North Carolina eligible to participate in Miss America," Black said.

Black, a former Miss North Carolina, said to her knowledge, that has never happened before.

Wednesday, Black filed two lawsuits on Clymer's behalf -- one to intervene on Wednesday's hearing and another to prevent the Miss North Carolina pageant association from breaking its contract with Clymer.

Black said no matter how the situation ends, many people have been hurt.

"The pageant's been hurt, Rebekah Revels has been hurt, Misty's been hurt, and the chances of whoever goes to Miss America, their chances have been hurt," Black said.

Black said she anticipates lawyers from both sides will file more motions. and that this fight will likely continue long after the Miss America pageant on Sept. 21.

Miss North Carolina serves until June 2003 and both women want that privilege.

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