The attorney representing Miss America 2018 Cara Mund is calling for the suspension of an investigation into her claims of bullying, according to a letter obtained by The Press of Atlantic City.
In the letter sent to the law firm representing the Miss America Organization, Mund’s attorney Roger Haber said the neutral review launched in response to Mund’s claims of bullying is “flawed” and rushed, and an investigation should be conducted by an independent law firm with no prior ties to the organization.
In response, the firm representing MAO wrote a letter stating “it is of the utmost importance to the MAO board that it determine whether Ms. Mund’s allegations are accurate so that it can either take corrective action or defend MAO’s integrity.”
The letter from Mund’s attorney was sent Thursday morning to Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, the firm that represents MAO.
Gino Serra from Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner replied with a letter addressed to Haber on Thursday evening on behalf of MAO.
“It’s unfortunate that you chose to send our firm a letter while simultaneously releasing it to the media and the state organizations, rather than first confirming whether you had the facts,” Serra’s letter states.
The response letter said the MAO Board of Trustees was presented with four independent firms that would conduct the review of Mund’s allegations. The organization selected human resources consulting firm Employment Practices Solutions Inc., for which President Stephanie Davis would handle the investigation.
Haber questioned the organization’s motives.
“They don’t want to do this. They’re just going to say the allegations are false,” Haber said in a phone interview Thursday. “They want it done with. The fact is, that’s not an investigation.”
After Mund wrote a five-page letter earlier this month accusing the organization and top leaders of bullying her during her time as Miss America, attorneys from Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner hired Davis to conduct a neutral “fact-finding” review of Mund’s claims, according to Haber’s letter.
Haber says in the letter the hired consultant has been taking direction from the law firm throughout the process.
“Without an independent law firm conducting the investigation, current MAO staff and Miss America stakeholders may not feel free to be candid if they think the outcome is predetermined in favor of MAO, Ms. Gretchen Carlson, or Ms. Regina Hopper,” the letter states.
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The MAO response letter indicates Davis’ role in the review will be to interview people with direct knowledge of the event and review the facts of Mund’s allegations, including speaking with Mund.
Haber writes in the letter the consultant tried to contact Mund on Monday and Tuesday to speak, and when Mund did not immediately reply, the consultant reached out to Mund’s mother. The organization knew Mund was traveling those days, Haber said.
Haber said he spoke to the consultant late Tuesday and said he would supply her with people who could back up Mund’s claims in the meantime, and she could speak with Mund after the pageant.
Haber said Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner advised the consultant the fact-finding would need to be completed by the weekend, regardless of whether Mund can get in touch with Davis.
“Ms. Mund is not going to do that,” Haber said Thursday. “This should be the most joyous period of her life. There are countless other people, if you are doing an investigation, that you could speak to first.”
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“Every individual contacted by the investigator has agreed to make himself or herself available for an interview except for Ms. Mund, who has refused repeated requests by Ms. Davis to meet despite efforts by MAO to be sure her schedule provided sufficient time to be interviewed. Instead, you have indicated you would not make Ms. Mund available until after September 10, 2018, at the earliest,” Serra said in the letter. “While the MAO Board would like Ms. Davis to have the benefit of an interview with Ms. Mund, if it cannot be done timely, we understand that Ms. Davis will assume that Ms. Mund’s interview would have been consistent with the allegations about MAO that she has made public.”
Haber said he is calling for an unrelated, third-party law firm to take over before the review continues. Haber also calls on Carlson and Hopper to “temporarily step aside” from their MAO duties to prevent impeding the outcome of the investigation.