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Runner-up stands by as Miss California USA decision nears

  • Story Highlights
  • Miss California USA pageant officials to have Monday news conference
  • Scheduled to be on hand: Tami Farrell, first runner-up
  • Miss California USA Carrie Prejean might be stripped of title due to issues
  • Prejean initially in news for her response to question about same-sex marriage
By Alan Duke
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LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Miss California USA pageant officials appear close to announcing if they will strip Carrie Prejean of her crown because of her lingerie photos and same-sex marriage statements.

Tami Farrell, who finished first runner-up, will be at Monday's news conference.

Miss California USA Carrie Prejean may lose her crown because of some semi-nude photos she appeared in.

The pageant's first runner-up, Tami Farrell, who would assume the Miss California USA title if Prejean is disqualified, will be at a Beverly Hills news conference Monday to "address many issues surrounding Miss California USA," said pageant spokesman Ron Neal.

The controversy began last month when Prejean, 21, declared her opposition to same-sex marriage in a response to a question on the national pageant stage. She finished as first runner-up to Miss USA.

Calls for her dethronement took on renewed energy this week when at least two photos of Prejean from a lingerie modeling session were published online, which Neal said violated the contract she signed to be in the pageant.

In a statement given to CNN on Tuesday, Prejean said the photos were being used in a "vicious and mean-spirited" effort to silence her for "defending traditional marriage." She vowed to "continue to support and defend marriage as the honorable institution it is."

The presence of Farrell on the list of those expected to be at the announcement -- and the absence of Prejean -- may suggest officials already have decided to replace her.

Shanna Moakler, co-executive director of the state pageant, met with Farrell this week to discuss the possibility of her taking over as Miss California USA, Neal said.

Ironically, Moakler -- who was the 1995 Miss USA -- became a Playboy centerfold model. As a top official with the Miss California USA organization, she plays a key role in deciding if the lingerie photos of Prejean are too racy for a beauty queen.

State pageant officials met this week with lawyers and representatives of Donald Trump, who owns the international competition, to consider whether they had grounds to take the crown away from Prejean, according to Neal.

"When you compete for Miss California, you're supposed to disclose whether you posed for nude or semi-nude photos, because it's grounds for disqualification," Neal said. Video Watch reaction to racy photos »

CNN obtained a copy of the pageant contract Prejean signed last year, in which she agreed that the discovery of semi-nude photos could mean disqualification.

The two photos show Prejean -- who said she was 17 at the time -- wearing pink panties and no top. She is turned away from the camera, with an arm hiding most of her breast.

It was unclear whether pageant officials would consider them semi-nude photos.

During the pageant, contestants must parade across the stage wearing a bikini that arguably shows more skin than the photos reveal.

Prejean defended the photos, which she said were taken when she was a teenager aspiring to be a professional model.

"I am a Christian, and I am a model," she said. "Models pose for pictures, including lingerie and swimwear photos."

She said the photos "have been released surreptitiously to a tabloid Web site that openly mocks me for my Christian faith."

"I am not perfect, and I will never claim to be," she said. "But these attacks on me and others who speak in defense of traditional marriage are intolerant and offensive. While we may not agree on every issue, we should show respect for others' opinions and not try to silence them through vicious and mean-spirited attacks."

Her publicist, Melany Ethridge, confirmed a comment she gave to celebrity Web site TMZ in which she said Prejean was 17 when she posed for the photos, hoping they would land her a modeling job.

"In her naivete, an agent convinced her to pose for this photo to submit to a lingerie company, claiming they could make her the next Victoria's Secret model," Ethridge told TMZ. "She has since learned what a lie that was, and what a mistake it was to have the photo taken."


Prejean announced last week that she would star in a new $1.5 million ad campaign supporting what she called "opposite marriage" (marriage between a man and a woman) funded by the National Organization for Marriage.

"Marriage is good," Prejean said at a news conference announcing the ad campaign. "There is something special about unions of husband and wife. Unless we bring men and women together, children will not have mothers and fathers."

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