EL CAJON, Calif. (KGTV) - A civil lawsuit was filed Tuesday against El Cajon councilman Ben Kalasho and his wife amid allegations of fraud and defamation for two contestants in their Miss Middle East Beauty Pageant USA.
Kalasho and his wife, Jessica, run the pageant along with the Middle Eastern Chamber of Commerce in San Diego.
The pageant crowns female contestants of middle eastern descent between the ages of 17 and 28 each year.
The lawsuit claims the woman who won in 2016, Zhala Tawfiq, was stripped of her title and not awarded the total prize money she was offered. It also states Kalasho created a fake Instagram account that posted pictures of Tawfiq's face on top of other naked women's bodies.
Another plaintiff in the case is former contestant Paris Kargar. The lawsuit claims Kalasho made a slew of inappropriate comments including one instance where he allegedly said, "You want to win tomorrow? You stay here tonight with me and you win tomorrow."
During an interview with 10News, Councilman Kalasho and his attorney denied the claims made in the lawsuit and said they have offered to have a forensic expert search his computer and social media accounts for any fake accounts he's accused of creating.
The attorney for the two contestants says they have evidence they will be releasing soon that may tie him to that account.
Kalasho's attorney is expected to release a counter claim on Wednesday.