Just a week into her reign as Miss America 2015, Kira Kazantsev has had to answer questions about a three month internship at Planned Parenthood and getting kicked out of her Hofstra University sorority for abusive hazing.
“Under the broad definition of hazing, yes, I was involved,” Kazantsev told "Good Morning America" on Tuesday. “At the time, unfortunately, that was just the culture of the university, and I was hazed, and I was kind of brought up through the organization thinking that is appropriate behavior.”
While the story made headlines and forced Kazantsev to explain her actions on national television, the Miss America pageant claimed they knew about Kazantsev’s troubles at her sorority all along.
"Kira has been fully transparent with the Miss America Organization about her termination from the Alpha Phi sorority," a Miss America Organization spokesperson told FOX411. "It's unfortunate that this incident has been exploited to create a storyline that distracts from what we should be focusing on: Kira's impressive academic achievements at Hofstra University."
Miss America 2010 Caressa Cameron said the organization sits the winner down immediately after she’s crowned and directly asks her if she has any skeletons in her closet.
“One of the very first things that happens when a Miss America wins the crown is the organization asking if there’s anything in the winner’s background because of the morality clause,” she said. “If there was something that would detract from her reign, the organization would have handled immediately and taken proactive measures.”
Jonathan Bernstein, President of Bernstein Crisis Management, said it’s unlikely the Miss American organization knew about the sorority scandal prior to the media reports, and is most likely doing damage control. As for Miss America's apology, Bernstein is not buying her defense of what he deems indefensible actions.
“Her weak excuse that 'unfortunately, that was just the culture of the university, and I was hazed, and I was kind of brought up through the organization thinking that is appropriate behavior' doesn't pass the smell test," Bernstein told FOX411. "The dangers of hazing had received extensive national publicity well before that time."
With the mounting media scrutiny, what are the chances Karantsev will relinquish her crown to runner up to Courtney Garrett, especially given the fact her platform was raising awareness of domestic abuse?
“If she doesn't relinquish the crown, the reputation of the Miss America organization will be sullied, with both Karantsev and they becoming the focal point for protests by victims of hazing and various human rights organizations,” said Bernstein.
Cameron strongly disagreed. “She should absolutely keep her crown. I'm not one to believe that one should be tried in the court of public opinion and convicted,” she said. "She already endured her punishment when she was kicked out of her sorority. She is being crucified again. I can only imagine the heartbreak she is experiencing."
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