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Miss California Keeping Title - Till Trump Decides

JOHN ROGERS   05/11/09 09:53 PM ET   AP

Carrie Prejean

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Officials of the Miss California USA pageant strongly criticized some of the actions of titleholder Carrie Prejean on Monday but said it's not their decision whether she should be stripped of her crown.

Co-executive directors Keith Lewis and Shanna Moakler told a press conference that only Miss USA pageant owner Donald Trump can make that decision.

Trump plans to hold a press conference Tuesday in New York City. One of Prejean's publicists, Melany Ethridge of A. Larry Ross Communications, said her client would be at Tuesday's event and would issue a statement then.

Miss USA officials have said Prejean has been "unavailable" and so in the meantime they have appointed the state pageant's runner-up, Tami Farrell, as a "Beauty of California Ambassador" to fulfill any duties the winner normally would handle.

Lewis said that if Trump allows Prejean to retain her crown, state pageant officials would welcome her back and encourage her to take part in her normal duties.

"We're still going to be able to fulfill our duties no matter if Mr. Trump offers a second chance or utters his famous line from `The Apprentice,'" Lewis said (meaning, of course, "You're fired").

Prejean, 21, of San Diego, created controversy during the Miss USA pageant when she answered a judge's question by saying she believes marriage should only be between a man and a woman.

The state pageant has been investigating whether she violated her contract by making public appearances with groups opposed to same-sex marriage. Prejean also failed to reveal that she posed in her underwear as a teenager.

Moakler said Prejean's failure to reveal the photo to organizers shows she entered the pageant under false pretenses.

"For us the severity of nudity in the one photo that Carrie Prejean has admitted was hers is not the issue. The fact that she entered the pageant and admitted it, is," Moakler said.

Moakler said that women entering the pageant are given documents that require full disclosure, but they do not say that any disclosure will make the person ineligible.

Rather, she said, the documents say the entrant should disclose things so officials can evaluate them.

"Our system is about empowering women to be the best they can be," she said.

Lewis said the state pageant has never criticized Prejean for her beliefs, but he added that Miss California USA must represent everyone in the state.

Lewis said the appointment of Farrell wasn't meant to be punitive or retaliatory against Prejean. Lewis and Moakler are officials of K2 Productions, which independently produces the state pageant under license. Lewis emphasized they were not speaking on behalf of the Miss USA or Miss Universe pageants.

In the meantime, blogs raised questions about whether a double standard existed as stories surfaced about topless pictures of Alysha S. Castonguay, now Miss Rhode Island USA. She was a New England Patriots cheerleaders when she posed for Maxim last year.

The 22-year-old Castonguay, who has said she told pageant officials about the pictures, apparently is in no danger of being dethroned.

On CBS' "The Early Show," Castonguay defended Prejean, saying Prejean's comments on gay marriage are the main issue, not her photos.

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Filed by Katherine Thomson  |