After weeks of scandal and controversy following her honest answer to a simple question at the Miss USA pageant, Carrie Prejean has emerged as she started.
"Carrie will remain Miss California," Donald Trump said at a press conference Tuesday.
The controversial beauty queen was named first runner-up at the April 19 pageant, during which she cause a firestorm by responding to a judge's question by saying she favored limiting marriage to a man and a woman.
Since then, the state pageant has been investigating whether Prejean, 21, violated her contestant contract by making public appearances with groups opposed to same-sex marriage, and by failing to reveal that she had posed in racy photos, some of which were release just hours before the press conference.
But Trump, who owns the Miss Universe organization, praised Prejean for her "honest answer" when she was asked a "very tough question," noting that it was the same answer that President Obama has given.
Speaking for herself at the press conference, Prejean said she found it "appalling" that a professional photographer would release compromising photos to TMZ in a violation of her trust. Prejean said the pictures were taken on a windy day where she said she was inadvertently "exposed."
Ultimately however, Trump said that after careful review, the pictures taken were "fine," and that while some were indeed risque, many were in fact "quite lovely."
As for Prejean's miscommunications with the Miss California organization, Trump said that after hours of meeting in his office Tuesday morning, she was getting along "very well" with co-directors Shanna Moakler and Keith Lewis.
That statement was a sharp contrast from Moakler and Lewis' comments Monday, when Lewis slammed Prejean's actions — including appearances with several anti-gay marriage groups — which he claimed caused the Miss California title to be “hijacked,” preventing them from doing the necessary “work at hand.”
“Her contract outlines that she must be available to make appearances,” Lewis said, before adding that they have been unable to communicate directly with Prejean. “It is a huge conflict of interest.”
Lewis added that Prejean’s appearances with the National Organization for Marriage and other anti-gay marriage groups have created “confusion in the marketplace” because it is difficult to separate Prejean’s personal convictions from those of the Miss California organization.
Still, the Miss California organization announced yesterday they had appointed an alternate for Prejean.
According to pageant co-directors Keith Lewis and Shanna Moakler, regardless of Trump’s decision, first runner up Tami Ferrell will serve as “an ambassador” for the state’s organization, appearing at events in Prejean’s absence or in situations where it would be “unwise” to send her.
Getting emotional at times, Prejean slammed her critics, saying the backlash she received "should not happen in America," and that it "undermines her constitutional rights" which her grandfather — who she said served under General Patton in the Battle of the Bulge — fought for.
Still, she said that she forgave those who had spoken out against her over the past weeks.
"My faith requires forgiveness," she said. "So I forgive everyone."