Underage drinking—forgivable. Going wild—not so much.
Such was the lesson 22-year-old Katie Rees learned Thursday when she was stripped of her Miss Nevada USA crown after photos surfaced showing her making like a "Girls Gone Wild" star.
Rees' dethroning comes two days after Miss USA Tara Conner kept her crown despite tabloid tales of her imbibing in Manhattan nightclubs prior to her 21st birthday.
Rees was to have competed alongside other state champs at next year's Miss USA showdown, with the winner succeeding Conner, provided Conner successfully completes rehab, stays on pater familias Donald Trump's good side and holds onto her own crown.
Instead, Rees is out, and her first runner-up, Helen Salas, is in—and slated for Nevada's slot in the Miss USA 2007 Pageant.
Trump's Miss Universe Organization released a brief statement Thursday confirming Rees "ha[d] been relieved of her duties" and replaced by Salas. It did not reference the revealing photos, and it did not elaborate on why Rees had been replaced.
Rees did a slightly better job explaining the situation in a damage-control statement released by her lawyer, Mario Torres, on the day before her dismissal.
"Katie Rees, Miss Nevada USA, wants the public to know she was 17 and had a lapse in judgment," the statement said.
Like the Miss Universe Organization, Rees did not specifically mention the photos. If she had, she might have noted her judgment lapsed on at least eight occasions during which the then teen, sometimes clad in a red tank top and jeans, exposed a breast, posed next to exposed breasts that were not her own, showed off a blue thong and generally appeared as if she were reenacting poses from the Joe Francis oeuvre. (The pictures are available for online perusal at splashnews.com.)
According to Las Vegas' KVBC-TV, the photos, apparently snapped some five years ago at a Tampa party, became public fodder this week after appearing on the MySpace page for a Vegas-based events planner. The Rees photos could not be found on the page on Thursday.
In an another apparent reference to the photos, the Rees statement reminded that "the actions on that evening in subject [sic] are in no way indicative of the person she is or the person she has become."
"She is a law-abiding citizen and talented adult," the statement continued.
Rees claimed her Miss Nevada USA crown last October.
The Rees dethroning is actually the third scandal to hit the Trump pageant empire this week. (This tally does not include the ongoing Trump-Rosie O'Donnell war of words.)
In addition to the Rees and Conner matters, Mothers Against Drunk Driving dropped Miss Teen USA champ Katie Blair as its spokeswoman after the 18-year-old was spied nightclubbing with Conner.
Miss USA, Miss Teen USA and Miss Universe are all produced by the Miss Universe Organization.
Shiemicka LaShanne, a former Miss New York USA contestant turned pageant consultant, said she thinks it's just a coincidence that so many pageant scandals have hit one pageant producer.
"I work with [these] young ladies all the time, and I've never come across a party girl," LaShanne said Thursday. "I think it's just a bad call. I think it has nothing to do with the system."
Of all the missteps of the week, LaShanne, for one, thinks Conner's was the most egregious.
"If Miss Nevada USA can get stripped of her crown, Miss USA can get stripped of her crown," LaShanne said. "I think underage drinking was even worse."