Miss Universe suspends Miss USA after VP Max Sebrechts steps down for sexually harassing contestants
Miss USA has found itself mired in controversies — first that this year’s pageant competition was “rigged” and second that the vice president of Miss USA, Max Sebrechts, did not leave his position willingly but was asked to quit after it was discovered that he allegedly sexually harassed participants. The husband of Crystle Stewart — who is the national director of Miss USA and Miss Teen USA — also allegedly shared a clip of his penis with an aspiring model, whom he also told, “The thought of imagining you in those tights without underwear has quite an effect on me.”
Sebrechts reportedly resigned earlier this year after a contestant in 2021 accused him of coming into her hotel room and kissing her without consent. The ex-model had also allegedly shared unsuitable messages with two girls and told one of them that he would help her in winning the Miss USA title. Though his stepping down was portrayed as a “structural change” at the time, now it has been discovered that it was a forced removal.
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The Daily Mail reported that “a whistleblower penned a furious email outlining the alleged misconduct and copied it to multiple top execs across Miss Universe and parent company Endeavour in June. The anonymous complaint - shared with DailyMail.com - accused Sebrechts of 'hitting on' 2021 finalists who feared they would have no shot at winning the storied beauty contest if they complained about his 'disgusting display and abuse of power.'”
Meanwhile, it has also been reported that Stewart, who became Miss USA President in 2020, ended her marriage with Sebrechts after knowing the accusations against him. This comes after a number of 2022 Miss Universe contestants came forward claiming R'Bonney Gabriel’s winning was “predetermined” because she is a “Filipina - making her the first Filipina American to be crowned,” the publication reported.
Amid the accusations, Miss Universe is said to have taken the help of a law firm, Holland & Knight, to find out the truth about the October 3 event. But this promptness has also raised a question on the global organization and its president Paula Shugart, who failed to take quick action after class-of-2021 contestants apparently complained about Sebrechts.
As per a source who spoke to DailyMail.com, “This is not just about rigging, it's not just about favoritism. Why the f*** are you not talking about the sexual allegations? They are hoping everyone looks the other way and misses the real scandal – that there was a sexual predator operating in a prominent position within Miss USA and they barely did anything about it.”
The woman, who accused Sebrechts of kissing her, stated that Shugart had told her that a probe would be launched into the matter, but it never happened. In place of that an email was sent to her and other girls that read, “Max Sebrechts will no longer serve as the Miss USA Organization Vice President and will be focusing his efforts on other business ventures.”
The contestants were also reportedly unhappy with Stewart, who did nothing to launch an investigation. Instead in a conference call, she apparently said, “Is this the easiest thing to do, no. I want to make sure that you can speak and say, no, a thorough investigation was done, it was definitely taken very seriously, almost went to jail.”
The 41-year-old Miss USA 2008 had also added, “He went into the hotel room to speak with her. They talked. When he hugged her goodbye … she felt uncomfortable. Hearing it was uncomfortable for me. It doesn't sit right and these young ladies shouldn't feel uncomfortable, period. What's been going around that's not true is that contestants had sex with him … Max voluntarily stepped down. Even if he didn't volunteer, it was going to be enforced by myself.”