A South Surrey beauty queen has been stripped of her title and is being sued by pageant organizers for defamation.
Ashley Brooks won the title of Ms. Vancouver on Nov. 24, 2013 in Vancouver Television’s Mr. and Ms. Vancouver Pageant, after vying for seven months for the title on an anti-bullying platform.
In a statement of claim filed Nov. 26 in B.C. Supreme Court – nearly a year to the day since she was crowned – Vancouver Television officials allege the 19-year-old and her mother “are maliciously attempting to destroy our business and relationships with our current and past beauty pageant contestants, as well as customers.”
“The defendants have also posted false statements defaming our business online,” the statement of claim notes.
According to the court documents, Brooks and her mother, Lin sent messages to pageant contestants trying to “get them to drop or destroy our pageant.”
However, Lin told Peace Arch News that it’s Vancouver Television in the wrong. According to the White Rock woman, her daughter never received any of the prizes she was promised – including professional photo shoots and a hosting position with Vancouver Television, among other things.
“She was supposed to have a photo shoot every three months and there was (only one) photo shoot that she had,” Lin said last week.
Lin said Brooks was most let down by the promise of a hosting position with VTV, which she assumed would be a paid position but later found out it was not.
As a result, Lin sent VTV executives a request to be compensated $80,000 for the unclaimed prizes.
“We just kind of assumed (the hosting position) would be $40,000-$50,000 a year. And all that time that she wasted (was included),” Lin said.
Brooks did not return interview requests, and Lin told PAN that neither can afford to retain a lawyer.
In an interview Thursday, Vancouver Television executive producer Harmon Bal told PAN that Brooks’ claims of not receiving prizes were false.
“Ashley and her mother… they would refuse all the prizes of any kind,” he said. “We were quite confused, we didn’t know what was happening at that point.”
Bal noted that a request for a photo shoot went unanswered for two days, before Brooks’ mother texted to say not to book it.
He said the mother also refused by text to have her daughter’s hair styled in a Vancouver salon due to the mother being a “brand manager” of a different brand of hair product.
Bal said other prizes went unclaimed – including a trip to Jamaica – due to Brooks not having a passport.
He said complaints were received from pageant sponsors over Brooks demanding free items, tardiness and not fulfilling duties. Lin denies Bal’s claims.
The executive producer said Vancouver Television was forced to drop the teen as Ms. Vancouver.
However, he said, the teen was given the opportunity to finish her reign, take the prizes and move on.
“We were happy to leave it as is,” Bal said. “But then we got a call from Global and a few other places and we felt we needed to stand up for ourselves.
“Up until then, we didn’t say anything about her being dropped. We didn’t say anything to embarrass her.”
Lin, however, counters Bal’s claims, saying that Ashley was never given the opportunity or guidance to fulfil her duties, as was promised in the initial Ms. Vancouver Craigslist posting.
In the notice of claim, Vancouver Television is seeking unspecified damages and costs, as well as Vancouver Television property.
Bal said that he could not comment on that aspect of the lawsuit, but noted that the outcome will depend on Brooks’ response.
“At the age of 19, to be sued in B.C. Supreme Court, I don’t know how I would feel about that,” he said. “How far they want to go is basically how far we’re going to take this.”
As of PAN deadline Monday, a statement of defence had yet to be filed.
This year’s pageant took place Sunday, Nov. 23. Walt Yao and Sabrina Dhowre were named as Mr. and Ms. Vancouver, respectively.