Regina Flores' reign as Miss Colorado isn't over after all.
Flores, 22, was reinstated and awarded $153,000 on Tuesday by arbitrator Harold Reed. The retired Denver judge found the pageant "intentionally inflicted emo-tion-al harm and distress" on the beauty queen.The ruling was the latest chapter in a case that included allegations of racism, telephone taps and snooping by pageant officials at a national level.
Flores was stripped of her crown Dec. 30 in a dispute with pageant officials, who said she violated her contract when she got a part-time job at a department store without approval, got her mother to book her appearances and missed one appearance.
The college student, who is the first Hispanic Miss Colorado, said she was fired without cause. She sued to get her title back and the rights to the $11,000 in scholarship money she won.
"I hope this case will set a precedent not just in Colorado, but in other states as well about the way contestants are treated," she said at a news conference to announce the judge's ruling.
Flores said Colorado pageant officis sent investigators to New Mexico to find out if she was married in an effort to cancel her contract. She said Miss America pageant officials told their counterparts to record her phone conversations and said if she didn't shape up to "get rid of her."
Reed sided firmly with Flores after a three-day hearing, dismissing one of the pageant's causes for termination - that she failed to agree to fly to Russia for an appearance - as "absolutely ludicrous." Reed said no such trip was planned.