Miss USA has 'personal issues'

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NEW YORK -- The organizers of the Miss USA pageant said Thursday they are evaluating the "behavioral and personal issues" of the reigning winner and will decide her future within a week.

Pageant officials and Donald Trump, who co-owns the Miss Universe Organization with NBC, would not say what Kentucky native Tara Conner, 20, had done to prompt the serious evaluation.

"I can't really talk about it now," Trump said. "But we have to make a decision. There is no question about that."

Internet gossip Web site TMZ.com reported that pageant officials and NBC met Tuesday to discuss Conner's alleged bad behavior, "including her conduct at New York City bars." The Web site did not name its sources.

Miss USA is considered a role model and must act accordingly, said Lark-Marie Anton, spokeswoman for the Miss Universe Organization, which produces the Miss USA pageant. Behavior such as underage drinking is clearly prohibited, she said.

The organization and Trump will evaluate Conner's "behavioral and personal issues to see what we can do to work with her and what we will do about her reign going forward," the organization's president, Paula Shugart, said in a statement.

"Mr. Trump will make a determination and announcement within the coming week," Shugart said.

A 5-foot-5 blonde who lives in New York, Conner has been competing in pageants since age 4. She won the title of Young Miss Russell County in Kentucky at the county fair when she was 13, and by 2002 she was second runner-up in Miss Teen USA. She finished fourth in the Miss Universe pageant in July.

Trump said if Conner gets the boot runner-up Miss California Tamiko Nash would take over as Miss USA.

This wouldn't be the first time Trump has dealt with such a scenario. In 2002, Russia's Oxana Fedorova won Miss Universe but was stripped of her title after violating her contract.

"We had a Miss Universe from Russia that was a total disaster, and we fired her, and Miss Panama took over and she did great," Trump said.

Trump said he had not spoken with Conner.

A telephone message left for Conner with her grandmother was not immediately returned Thursday.
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