By Pandora’s Box staff
A beauty pageant held at York College is under investigation by WPIX 11 news investigative reporter Howard Thompson and has been the subject of two segments of the station’s popular, “Help Me Howard” feature.
The controversy arose after a pageant insider claimed the Aug. 19 event at the Performing Arts Center was rigged. The event was held to choose a representative for Guyana in the Miss Universe pageant.
According to Delroy Walcott, a former administrative assistant for the Miss Universe Guyana Committee, event organizers rigged the contest to award the title to 25-year-old Rafieya Husain.
Walcott posted his resignation on the committee’s Facebook page right after the event, and told WPIX’s Thompson Husain was given an unfair edge and was behind in votes by the judges when the event was abruptly cut short and Husain was declared the winner.
Three contestants who participated in the pageant told Thompson they paid a $2,500 entry fee with the promise of accommodations, transportation and special events that never materialized.
Walcott told Thompson that Sharisse Victor, the first-runner up, was the judges’ pick to win and that the coordinator of the pageant and former title holder, Jyoti Hardat, pronounced Husain the winner despite that.
Walcott also said that Husain was granted perks the other contestants were denied, including having her own hair and make-up specialists with her backstage along with family members.
Walcott went on to say that the last question supposed to be answered by Husain was skipped and the winning announcement was made despite judge’s scores.
In a Youtube video posted after the pageant, Husain acknowledges having her own stylists backstage and thanks them.
Thompson posted video of himself trying to interview Husain at her mother’s home in Queens and having the door slammed in his face. He also posted on the WPIX website that his efforts to interview Hardat yielded only a vague voicemail acknowledging that his message was received.