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‘It was heartbreaking’: Mass. beauty queen gives back crown after #MeToo joke

File photo
Maude Gorman in 2015.

A reigning Miss Plymouth County beauty queen, who is a survivor of sexual assault, gave up her crown on Saturday after an emcee joked about the #MeToo movement during a pageant.

Maude Gorman, 24, resigned as Miss Plymouth County for the Miss Massachusetts Miss America Organization after an emcee made a joke about the women’s movement on stage while mentioning the removal of the swimsuit competition from the pageant.

During the June 30 event in Massachusetts, just before the finale, the host acted out a skit with someone portraying the role of God.

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“We may have very well seen the last ever swimsuit competition on stage. It’s very upsetting,” a woman said in a video of the comedy sketch, which was published Tuesday by Observer.com. “And I’m trying to understand, God, why it happened.”

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“Me too, Amy,” a person responded, holding up a #MeToo sign.

Several members of the audience could be heard laughing and clapping in the video.

“It was heartbreaking to hear,” said Gorman, who was backstage at the time. “In that moment, everything collapsed right in front of me.”

Following the crowning ceremony, Gorman skipped the reception and went home to draft her resignation letter and submitted it on July 3.

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On the same day, the Miss America organization posted an apology on its Facebook page saying the skit was not in the script or approved by the board.

“The Miss Massachusetts Board of Directors offers our sincere and heartfelt apology for those offended by Saturday night’s skit,” the organization wrote. “Moving forward, we will review all content with future emcees and other participants prior to our show to be sure offensive or potentially offensive content is not allowed.”

Gorman has spoken candidly in the past about how she was raped by three men when she was 13, and how it took her more than three years to speak about it.

After she told her mother and sought therapy, Gorman competed in local pageants to build self-confidence. In 2015, she was named Miss Massachusetts World America.

Gorman’s mother, Mary Ellen, said her daughter was adamant about her decision even though she had been competing in pageants for years.

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“It’s very hard to win a title, but she felt very strongly about giving it up. She had to be true to herself,” she said.

Although Gorman no longer plans to compete in pageants, she said she will continue to advocate for survivors and hopes her decision will encourage other women to stand up for what they believe in.

“Walking way from this title is hard, but I was able to do so much good through that,” she said. “I look forward to see what else the world can offer.”

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.