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Miss California Runner-Up: I Would Refocus Spotlight For The Better

May 6 2009, Published 11:45 a.m. ET

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Tami Farrel, the Miss California runner-up who would directly benefit if current titleholder Carrie Prejean's crown was revoked, told Fox News Wednesday that she would try and refocus the spotlight to the organization's positive attributes, such as charity.

A state pageant official in California Tuesday said Prejean "breached her contract" by keeping topless photos a secret and could actually lose her beauty queen title.

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Speaking with Fox And Friends, Farrel, 24, said that Prejean is in a tough situation because she spoke from "a place of truth" on a controversial subject. She said that, though Prejean willingly leaped into the headlines with her onstage comments decrying gay marriage, "at the end of the day, she's a 21-year-old-girl."

Prejean said the semi-nude photos -- taken when she was 17 and aspiring to be a Victoria's Secret model -- were being used in a "vicious and mean-spirited" effort to silence her for "defending traditional marriage."

Prejean has been a lightning rod of controversy since she stated that she was against gay marriage in response to a question during the Miss USA pageant last month.

"That answer, and my commitment to stand by my beliefs, has since resulted in attacks on me and my integrity as a woman," Prejean said in a statement on Tuesday.

Her fate is being discussed in "closed-door meetings" among California pageant officials, lawyers and representatives of Donald Trump, who owns the international competition, said Miss California USA spokesman Roger Neal.

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"They are going over the legalities and clearly she breached her contract," Neal said. "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. You'll see in the agreement that she signed that she clearly violated the terms of her reign as Miss California USA, but we don't expect a decision to be made today."

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Shanna Moakler, the co-executive director of the Miss California USA organization, will meet with Tami Farrel, the runner-up for the title, "to discuss the possible next steps."

Prejean -- who finished as runner-up in the Miss USA pageant -- has defended the photos.

"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."

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.



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