Miss USA CEO responds to allegations against organization in open letter

Rose pushed back against claims of mistreatment towards the former title holder.

ByMason Leib GMA logo
Friday, May 31, 2024
Miss USA 2023 resigns, citing her mental health
Utah contestant Noelia Voigt has resigned as Miss USA, citing her mental health; Savannah Gankiewicz or Alexis Loomans could be her successor.

Miss USA CEO Laylah Rose is pushing back on allegations of fostering a toxic environment, bullying and sexual harassment levied against the organization by former Miss USA Noelia Voigt in her resignation letter earlier this month.

"We are very disappointed to hear the recent false allegations made by individuals speaking on behalf of our former titleholder," read a statement from Rose issued Thursday regarding the slew of accusations aimed at the organization since Voigt's resignation and subsequent resignation letter.

"The allegations of sexual harassment, toxic environment and bullying are not true. To be clear, such behavior is not accepted, and we can assure you that if such behavior ever occurred, we would take immediate steps to protect our titleholder and provide access to appropriate resources," Rose's statement continued.

Voigt and former Miss Teen USA UmaSofia Srivastava resigned their titles earlier this month.

SEE ALSO: Hawaii native Savannah Gankiewicz crowned Miss USA after the previous winner resigned

Voigt cited mental health, and Srivastava wrote that her "values no longer fully align with the direction of the organization."

After announcing she was stepping down, in a resignation letter obtained by ABC News, Voigt claimed there was a "toxic work environment within the Miss USA organization that, at best, is poor management and, at worst, is bullying and harassment."

She added, "I was made to feel unsafe at events without an effective handler and this culminated in being sexually harassed."

Voigt named Rose, the president and CEO of the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA organizations, in her resignation letter and claimed Rose "was generally inaccessible for communication," didn't offer her support, and allegedly "slandered (her)."

Overall, Voigt claimed in her resignation letter that she had "concern" for the Miss USA brand and alleged Rose "is also actively building a culture of fear and control, the antithesis of women's empowerment, that is causing a toxic workplace that is unsafe for future titleholders and employees."

SEE ALSO: Moms of Miss USA, Miss Teen USA speak out after daughters' resignations

In her Thursday statement, Rose also pushed back against claims of mistreatment towards the former title holder.

"The suggestions of a lack of communication and support for the prior titleholder are likewise false; we provided constant communication about events and procedures and provided access to all of the services needed, much of which went ignored or unused by our titleholder," wrote Rose.

Rose also added details about events that she said Voigt did not attend.

"We also arranged many events (always with a chaperone) to which she was invited to showcase her achievements and highlight her 'passion' projects, many of which our titleholder canceled at the last minute and without good reason," Rose's statement continued.

Later on Thursday, Voigt took to Instagram to respond to Rose's letter.

"I am constrained by a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) and would like to emphatically assert that, following the unauthorized circulation of my resignation letter, Laylah Roses' assertions in her recent statement that contradict my experience after three weeks of unanswered resignation notification are unequivocally inaccurate," wrote Voigt.

"I strongly encourage her to waive our NDA to enable me to speak," she ended her statement.

At the beginning of her open letter, Rose cited examples of ways in which "Miss USA is evolving." "On behalf of the Miss USA organization, I am also collaborating closely with the National Association for Mental Illness (NAMI) to provide all of our contestants with access to local resources for counseling and various forms of support."

She also noted that the organization dropped the age requirement to increase inclusivity.

Weeks ago, the mothers of Voigt and Srivastava spoke to "Good Morning America" to highlight what they say led to their daughters' resignation.

"The job of their dreams turned out to be a nightmare," Barbara Srivastava told "GMA." "We could not continue this charade. The girls decided to step down, give (up) their dream of a lifetime, a crown, a national title -- why would two girls -- decide to give that up?"

ABC News' Yi-Jin Yu contributed to this report