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Miss USA and Miss Teen USA moms say daughters ‘abused’ by organization

FILE - The mothers of ex-Miss Teen USA UmaSofia Srivastava (right) and ex-Miss USA Noelia Voigt have spoken out about their daughter's resignations and alleged mistreatment within the Miss USA Organization. Chance Yeh/Getty Images for Supermodels Unlimited

Miss USA and Miss Teen USA may have non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) keeping them silent, but their mothers are speaking out on their behalf and accusing the pageant organization of abuse and bullying.

For the last week, the American pageant world has been rocked by the sudden dual resignations of both Noelia Voigt, ex-Miss USA, and UmaSofia Srivastava, ex-Miss Teen USA.

It’s already unheard of for a titleholder to give back her crown, but speculation about the resignations only grew when eagle-eyed fans noticed a possible secret message in Noelia’s May 6 social media post about her decision to quit. When viewed as an acrostic, the first letters of the 11 sentences in her statement spell, “I am silenced.”

UmaSofia resigned days after Noelia, claiming “my personal values no longer fully align with the direction of the organization.”

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During a Tuesday appearance on Good Morning America, Noelia’s mother, Jackeline Voigt, said her daughter is indeed silenced, and will continue to be if her NDA is not lifted.

Jackeline declined to answer whether or not Noelia’s acrostic was intentional.

“The job of their dreams turned out to be a nightmare,” Barbara Srivastava, UmaSofia’s mother, said. “We could not continue this charade.”

Both Jackeline and Barbara said their daughters had never struggled with their mental health before winning their respective pageant titles. The mothers allege their daughters were bullied while employed by the Miss Universe Organization, which owns Miss USA.

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“She was so upset,” Jackeline said of Noelia, 24. “This is not what she worked so hard for.

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“The Miss Universe Organization needs to come out and speak to us, or apologize.”

Barbara said UmaSofia, 17, was mistreated by the Miss Universe Organization and had her personal social media accounts surveilled before her resignation. She said after seeing Noelia’s resignation, UmaSofia knew she had to return her crown too.

“It’s not about what they didn’t get,” Barbara said. “It’s about how they were ill-treated, abused, bullied and cornered.”

Both parents told Good Morning America that Noelia and UmaSofia are silenced by confidentiality clauses in their contracts with the Miss Universe Organization.

Jackeline and Barbara want Miss USA CEO Laylah Rose to step down from her position.

The mothers said they do not want other women and girls to experience the same mistreatment they allege their daughters faced. They called for an end to participation in all Miss USA-affiliated pageants.

“We just don’t want these families and these girls to go through what we’re going through,” Jackeline said.

The Miss USA Organization told ABC News, “We are committed to fostering a healthy, communicative and supportive environment for all contestants, state titleholders, national titleholders and staff.”

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Miss USA’s resignation letter

In Noelia’s resignation letter to the Miss Universe Organization, which was published by several media outlets in the days after her announcement, the former titleholder accused CEO Rose of creating and allowing a “toxic work environment.”

“There is a toxic work environment within the Miss USA organization that, at best, is poor management and, at worst, is bullying and harassment,” Noelia wrote in her letter. “This started soon after winning the title of Miss USA 2023.”

Noelia said after becoming Miss USA, she was diagnosed with anxiety and was later medicated. She allegedly also experienced flare-ups of a pre-existing medical condition that is worsened by stress, leaving her with “heart palpitations, full body shakes, loss of appetite, unintentional weight loss, loss of sleep, loss of hair, and more.”

She called Rose “often cold and unnecessarily aggressive.”

“It’s incredibly jarring to be trying to do my job and constantly be threatened with disciplinary action, including taking away my salary, for things that were never discussed with me and, if it related to a public-facing post for example, were causing no issue other than not meeting her personal preference,” she continued.

She did not provide specific examples of when disciplinary action was threatened.

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In her letter, Noelia recounted an incident in which she allegedly faced sexual harassment at a Christmas parade in Florida. She said while she was alone in the car with a man, he “made several inappropriate statements to me about his desire to enter into a relationship with me.”

Jackeline said Noelia was asked by the man if she is “into old men with money.”

“I was made to feel unsafe at events without an effective handler, and this culminated in being sexually harassed,” Noelia wrote.

When Noelia confronted Rose about the incident, she was allegedly told the organization could not “prevent people from saying things to you at public events” and was not provided any support. Noelia claimed Rose told her the sexual harassment “is, unfortunately, part of the role you’re in as a public figure.”

Noelia’s resignation letter contained several other allegations against Rose, namely that she “weaponized” Noelia’s mental health struggles and called the beauty queen “‘mentally ill’ in a derogatory way.”

Rose told NBC News that “the well-being of all individuals associated with Miss USA is my top priority.”

“All along, my personal goal as the head of this organization has been to inspire women to always create new dreams, have the courage to explore it all, and continue to preserve integrity along the way,” she said. “I hold myself to these same high standards and I take these allegations seriously.”

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Rose did not explain specifically which allegations she was referring to.

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