RALEIGH — The legal struggle caused by topless photos of former Miss North Carolina Rebekah Revels reached a probable end Tuesday.
The N.C. Court of Appeals ruled against Revels in her effort to punish the pageant for kicking her out in 2002 because of the photos.
Revels can ask the N.C. Supreme Court to review the case, but the odds are the court will refuse to do so.
“In the legal system ... you just have to accept things as they are,” Revels said Tuesday afternoon. “You cannot feel defeated. You just have to accept the way that things happen and turn out and leave it to the people who are put in the position to make the decisions they make.
“I feel happy that I’ve gone forth with everything that I’ve done. The outcome is what it is. I can’t change it, but I’m definitely glad that I’ve taken steps that I’ve taken.”
She declined to answer questions on the details of the case or whether she would try to take it to the state Supreme Court. She said she wants to first consult her lawyer, Barry Nakell of Chapel Hill.
The ruling satisfied the Miss North Carolina Pageant Organization, said its lawyer, Ken Carlson of Winston-Salem. “We are quite pleased, and we think the facts and the law support the decision.”
The case started in June 2002. Revels, then a Robeson County teacher, was Miss Fayetteville and won the Miss North Carolina pageant. She began preparing to enter the Miss America pageant.
In July 2002, Revels’ ex-boyfriend Tosh Welch contacted Miss America pageant officials by e-mail. He suggested Revels had lived with a man and threatened to publish topless photos of her.
“Nude pics of Miss America bring big bucks nowadays,” he wrote.
The pageant feared a repeat of a scandal in 1984 in which nude photos of reigning Miss America Vanessa Williams were published in the adult magazine Penthouse.
Officials said they also felt that Revels was in violation of her pageant contract. One clause says she could never have “done any act or engaged in any activity which could be characterized as dishonest, immoral, immodest, indecent, or in bad taste.” In addition, the contract says she could never have been married or lived with a man in lieu of marriage.
The Miss America Organization decided that Revels could not compete in the national pageant. The Miss North Carolina Pageant Organization told Revels to resign or she would be fired. She resigned. Runner-up Misty Clymer assumed the title.
In August and September 2002 Revels sued Welch, the Miss North Carolina Pageant Organization and the Miss America Organization.
During the legal wrangling of August and September 2002, Revels won back the right to serve as Miss North Carolina and briefly was allowed to appear alongside Clymer at the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, N.J., although she was not allowed to compete.
With the simultaneous legal claims of Clymer and Revels to the Miss North Carolina title through 2002 and 2003, no 2002 Miss North Carolina is listed on the Miss North Carolina Web site.
In court in 2004, Nakell estimated that Revels lost at least $30,000 in prizes, appearance fees, publicity and other income when she lost the crown.
Revels got a court order in 2002 to get the photos from Welch, and she won an $11,000 judgment against him in 2004.
Her case against the Miss America pageant was dismissed in summer 2005. A spokeswoman for Miss America said that case is over.
Her suit against the state pageant was sent to an independent arbitrator despite Revels’ objections. Revels wanted a jury trial in Robeson County.
The arbitrator ordered Revels to produce the photos as evidence, but Revels refused. The arbitrator halted the case and ruled against her.
Revels asked Wake County Superior Court Judge Narley Cashwell to overturn the arbitrator. He refused. She took the case to the Court of Appeals.
A three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals unanimously decided that Cashwell made the correct decision.
After Revels was forced out of the Miss America program in 2002, the Miss World pageant asked her to serve as its American contestant that fall. Revels came in the top 10. In 2005, she sued Miss World’s American organizers, charging breach of contract.
At a hearing in October, Robeson County Superior Court Judge Frank Floyd awarded Revels $77,672.20 in damages in the Miss World case. None of the defendants were present.
The defendants, Peter Klamka, Miss World Holdings Inc. and Legend Mobile, filed paperwork in December that says they received no notice to be in court. They want the judgment overturned and the case transferred to Michigan, where they are based.
Klamka in August 2005 sued Revels in federal court in Michigan to try to force her lawsuit to that jurisdiction. That case is scheduled for trial in October.
Revels declined to discuss the Miss World case.
She said she’s trying to move her life forward. She lives in an Atlanta suburb. She said she works in jewelry sales and is pursuing a modeling, singing and acting career. She recently completed a modeling job for a bank, she said.
“I’m kind of stretched, but it’s a lot of fun,” she said.
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