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Miss USA's and Miss Teen USA's mothers speak out: 'They were ill-treated, abused, bullied and cornered'

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Days after their daughters’ decisions to relinquish their pageant titles, the mothers of former Miss USA Noelia Voigt and Miss Teen USA UmaSofia Srivastava are speaking out in place of their daughters, who they say are still bound by non-disclosure agreements with the Miss USA organization.

“The job of their dreams turned out to be a nightmare,” Barbara Srivastava said on Good Morning America on Tuesday, sitting alongside Jackeline Voigt. “We could not continue this charade. The girls decided to step down and give (up) their dream of a lifetime — a crown, a national title. Why would two girls decide to give that up?”

It is the first time the mothers have spoken publicly about the ordeal, which roiled the pageant world last week. It marked the first time a titleholder in Miss USA or Miss Teen USA had resigned, and both happened in quick succession. On Instagram, UmaSofia Srivastava said her values “no longer aligned” with those of the organization, while Noelia Voigt cited her mental health, though her long, cryptic statement seemed to spell out “I am silenced” in the first 11 sentences.

Speaking on Good Morning America, Jackeline declined to answer whether the supposed secret message was intentional. But responding to whether she feels as if her daughter was silenced, she said “She is, and she would be the rest of her life if this NDA is not (lifted).”

Voigt’s resignation letter to Miss USA, obtained and published by CNN on Saturday, revealed a range of allegations against Miss USA CEO Laylah Rose, including a “toxic work environment” rife with “bullying.”

According to the letter, Rose is “actively building a culture of fear and control, the antithesis of women’s empowerment, that is…unsafe for future titleholders and employees,” Voigt wrote. Among the issues, Voigt claimed that Rose failed to provide her with appropriate travel accommodations or an “effective handler,” leading to an incident where she was left alone in a car with a stranger at a parade in Sarasota, Florida, where an unnamed man sexually harassed her, she wrote.

Her mother, who was with her in Sarasota, saw her just after the alleged incident occurred, she said in the interview.

“I saw Noelia so stressed out, and I said, ‘What happened?’ and she said, ‘Mom, get in the car,’” she recalled. “He told Noelia, ‘Are you into old men with money?’ and made Noelia very, very uncomfortable.”

Rose did not apologize, according to Jackeline. In her resignation letter, Voigt said that Rose told her that the organization “cannot prevent people saying things to you at public appearances” and that it is “unfortunately, part of the role.”

Barbara Srivastava said that during their reigning year, the titleholders were “ill-treated, abused, bullied and cornered.”

Jackeline called for the Miss Universe Organization, which owns Miss USA, to “speak to us or apologize.” The parent organization, owned by JKN Global Group, has been silent over the past week.

The Miss USA and Miss Universe Organization did not immediately return a request for comment, and did not respond to CNN’s earlier requests for comments on Friday.

For now, the mothers are warning prospective pageant contestants about getting involved with Miss USA. On Wednesday, the runner-up for Miss USA, Savannah Gankiewicz from Hawaii, will step up and take the title in a ceremony. But Miss Teen USA remains open, as the runner-up from 2023, New York’s Stephanie Skinner, declined to be crowned in a public statement on Instagram. CNN has contacted the second runner-up, Miss Pennsylvania Teen Maggie Ross, on whether she will take the title, but no announcement has been made.

“Look at what happened to Noelia and UmaSofia. Right now, it’s not the right time to participate,” Jackeline said.

“We just don’t want these families and these girls to go through what we’re going through,” she added.

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