Revels explains decision

First Posted: 1/15/2009

NEW YORK -- Rebekah Revels told a national television audience this morning that she resigned as Miss North Carolina crown last week at the request of Miss America pageant officials, who have been given topless photos of her taken by an ex-boyfriend.
Between interviews with Bruce Springsteen and Julia Roberts, the 24-year-old St. Pauls native made about a five-minute appearance on ABC's “Good Morning America.” In an even voice, Revels said her former boyfriend, in a “calculated” attempt to defame her character, “waited for the perfect moment to take this dream away.”
Revels won the Miss North Carolina crown in June and was preparing for the Miss America pageant, which will be held in Atlantic City, N.J., in September. It was Revels' lifelong dream to win the Miss America pageant.
“I was in the process of changing clothes and he took the photo,” Revels said. “We dated for quite some time, and I trusted him, and he used this against me at the point where he knew it was my breaking point, something to take away form me, that I've worked my whole life for, because I hurt him.”
In a statement announcing her resignation, Revels described her relationship with the ex-boyfriend as abusive.
“It's a hard story,” Revels said. “It's something that I've grown from and I've overcome that obstacle with him.”
Miss America officials have said that she violated her Miss America contract, which prohibits contestants from engaging in “any activity that could reasonably characterized as dishonest, immoral or indecent.”
Asked if she thought Miss America officials were within their rights to ask her to resign, Revels said that she thinks the organization did “what they felt was best for their organization.”
“I think that what I've done in my past should not be judged now,” she said. “I signed that contract with honesty and integrity. I had no idea that this guy would do this to me. I had no idea that the pictures even still existed. I never would have signed a contract if I did not think that I was honest and moral and a good person.”
She said that, after Miss America officials discussed her situation in a board meeting last Monday, she got a call from Alan Clouse, executive director of the Miss North Carolina pageant.
“He told me I would not be able to compete in the national competition and I needed to submit my resignation, and if I did not, I would be terminated,” she said. “Actually, I was terminated, then I resigned the following day.”
Revels said her situation isn't similar to that of former Miss America Vanessa Williams, who relinquished her crown after nude photos of her -- that were taken years before she entered the Miss America pageant -- were made public. Williams was photographed with another nude woman and was paid.
“I respect Vanessa for what she's done,” Revels said. “The Miss America program was wonderful for her, but she's taken her life and turned it into something positive. But I was not paid and this was not professionally done, so I don't think I'm comparable to her at all.”
Revels said she doesn't know what the future holds. She said she plans to take a a year off from teaching school. Last year, she taught 10th-grade English at Lumberton High School.
“This is very hard for me and hard for my family,” she said. “It's embarrassing. I don't know what's next for me, but I'm going to leave my options open. I'm not sure what I'm going to do.
“I've made lots of mistakes in my past, but I don't think people should judge me for that,” she said. “I think they should judge me for who I am now. Pageants, yes, they have a negative light cast upon them, but they are wonderful if you use them in a positive way, which is what I tried to do.”

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