Miss USA VP was forced to quietly step down over accusations that he sexually harassed young models


 

The vice president of Miss USA was forced to quietly step down amid accusations that he sexually harassed contestants and sent a video of his penis to an aspiring model, DailyMail.com can exclusively reveal.

Max Sebrechts, whose wife Crystle Stewart is the powerful national director of Miss USA and Miss Teen USA, left his job in January after a 2021 contestant complained that he invited himself into her hotel room and kissed her.

Sebrechts, a former male model, was accused of sending inappropriate messages to two more girls – telling one she was his ‘personal favorite’ and promising to help her become Miss USA.

His exit was passed off as a ‘structural change’ until a whistleblower penned a furious email outlining the alleged misconduct and copied it to multiple top execs across Miss Universe and parent company Endeavour in June.

The anonymous complaint – shared with DailyMail.com – accused Sebrechts of ‘hitting on’ 2021 finalists who feared they would have no shot at winning the storied beauty contest if they complained about his ‘disgusting display and abuse of power.’

Miss USA Vice President Max Sebrechts, who is married to pageant director Crystle Stewart was quietly removed from his position in January 2022 over accusations he sexually harassed young models, DailyMail.com has learned

Incriminating emails and screenshots obtained by DailyMail.com show the married VP emailed a young model in 2018 enclosing this shirtless photo

Incriminating emails and screenshots obtained by DailyMail.com show the married VP emailed a young model in 2018 enclosing this shirtless photo

Sebrechts asked the model if she was dating anyone and suggested they meet for a 'no strings' hook up before attaching the selfie, writing 'Jumping in the shower here' with a tongue face emoji

Sebrechts asked the model if she was dating anyone and suggested they meet for a ‘no strings’ hook up before attaching the selfie, writing ‘Jumping in the shower here’ with a tongue face emoji

 The whistleblower included snippets of messages allegedly sent by Sebrechts, including an invitation for one girl to come to his presidential suite to take in the ‘spectacular’ views.

Also attached was a graphic cell phone video of an unidentified male masturbating and groaning with pleasure which was allegedly sent to a former pageant contestant in 2018.

DailyMail.com has identified the video’s recipient, who says she and Sebrechts sent explicit pictures to one another after meeting at the Miss Texas USA 2017 competition which he hosted alongside Stewart, 41.

She bitterly regrets the episode but, looking back, believes she was exploited by Sebrechts – an older, married man and an influential figure in the pageant industry even before his wife ascended to Miss USA president in 2020.

Sebrechts, who is thought to be in his 40s, has not returned requests for comments but sources with knowledge of his position say he denies sexually harassing contestants.

According to a friend, Stewart – Miss USA 2008 and an actress pal of Tyler Perry – ended their eight-year marriage when she learned of the allegations, ensuring that ‘Max is out of the picture’ in both her personal life and business arrangements.

She and her Miss Brand franchise are currently suspended by Miss Universe over separate allegations concerning supposed rigging in this year’s Miss USA final, claims that the mother to two young children strenuously denies.

The 60-year-old competition was plunged into turmoil when rival contestants stormed off stage in protest as Miss Texas, R’Bonney Gabriel, was crowned the winner, with several girls accusing organizers of favoritism in social media posts.

Miss Universe has hired an outside law firm, Holland & Knight, to see whether anything untoward went down at the glitzy October 3 showpiece, which decides who goes on to compete in the global Miss Universe contest.

But questions are now being asked as to why there wasn’t a similarly transparent investigation when class-of-2021 contestants allegedly went to Paula Shugart, President of Miss Universe, in December last year to complain about Sebrechts.

‘This is not just about rigging, it’s not just about favoritism. Why the f*** are you not talking about the sexual allegations?’ a well-placed source told DailyMail.com.

Crystle Stewart was one of the top 15 semi finalists in Miss Universe 2008 when the pageant was held in Vietnam

Sources say she ended her eight-year marriage with Sebrechts when she learned of the allegations

Crystle Stewart was one of the top 15 semi finalists in Miss Universe 2008 when the pageant was held in Vietnam. Sources say she ended her eight-year marriage with Sebrechts when she learned of the allegations

Questions are now being asked as to why there wasn't an investigation when class-of-2021 contestants complained. Stewart announced Sebrechts's departure to titleholders earlier this year but did not explain why

Questions are now being asked as to why there wasn’t an investigation when class-of-2021 contestants complained. Stewart announced Sebrechts’s departure to titleholders earlier this year but did not explain why 

It's understood the girls provided a trove of personal messages sent to them by Sebrechts. Above Miss Universe President Paula Shugart thanks one of the women after she shared screenshots of his 'inappropriate' messages in December

It’s understood the girls provided a trove of personal messages sent to them by Sebrechts. Above Miss Universe President Paula Shugart thanks one of the women after she shared screenshots of his ‘inappropriate’ messages in December 

 ‘They are hoping everyone looks the other way and misses the real scandal – that there was a sexual predator operating in a prominent position within Miss USA and they barely did anything about it.’

A spokesman for Miss Universe denied that was the case, insisting that Miss USA ‘removed the employee from its organization in January 2022’ and put ‘new protocols’ in place.

DailyMail.com understands that three girls provided Shugart with witness accounts and personal messages sent to them by Sebrechts, a flamboyant Belgian national and luxury roofing salesman.

He urged one contestant to come to his presidential suite at the River Spirit Casino Resort in Tulsa, Oklahoma to take in the ‘spectacular’ views.

She declined the invitation but told DailyMail.com in an exclusive interview that Sebrechts carried a costume to her room later that day and walked in, uninvited, and sat down.

The young model, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that when the then-VP eventually got up to leave, he hugged her and twice kissed her on the ‘corner of the mouth.’

‘I remember freezing in that moment. I knew that it was something that should not be happening,’ the contestant said.‘The only thing that was going on in my head was, are you stupid? You are not only the co-owner of this organization you are married to Crystle Stewart. Crystle is an icon in the pageant world. She was my personal icon.’

The contestant said she was assured by Shugart there would be a full and independent investigation by outside counsel but that never came to fruition.

Married Max Sebrechts sent former Miss Texas participant sexually-charged texts and a photo of his penis

A former beauty pageant contestant has told how married Max Sebrechts sent her sexually-charged texts and a photo of his penis after suggesting a ‘no strings attached’ fling.

‘And of course this is all between us ok,’ the rakish Belgian added in a January 2018 email, attaching a shirtless photo.

DailyMail.com has agreed not to name the former contestant who admits she consented to an exchange of naked pictures and X-rated texts.

But she maintains it was highly inappropriate behavior on the part of Sebrechts who has been married to Crystle Stewart, the head of Miss USA, since 2014 and has two kids with her.

The ex-contestant was 22 when she met Sebrechts backstage at a Miss Texas contest in late 2016 where he and Stewart were acting as VIP hosts.

Sebrechts first reached out to one former contestant in September 2016, praising her performance after she failed to make the top 16 at the Miss Texas competition

Sebrechts first reached out to one former contestant in September 2016, praising her performance after she failed to make the top 16 at the Miss Texas competition

‘I remember specifically thinking it was weird that all of us girls were backstage waiting to go on and Max and Crystle were back there with us,’ she said.

‘We’re basically half naked. I remember all through the rehearsals that whole week he kept staring at me.’

The aspiring model’s hopes of taking the Miss Texas title and emulating Stewart’s Miss USA 2008 win were dashed when she failed to rank highly.

‘I went home devastated that I didn’t place and I got a message from him on Facebook messenger at like midnight,’ she said.

‘He was saying like, oh you were my favorite. You should have placed top five, what happened out there?’

The young woman was happy to chat periodically with Sebrechts as she welcomed his advice and idolized Stewart who once placed eighth in Miss Universe.

In January 2018 Sebrechts got back in touch to ask if she was dating anyone and suggested the pair hook up.

‘The thought of imagining you in those tights without underwear has quite an effect on me,’ he wrote to her.

In further messages Sebrechts – a former trade ambassador for the Belgian chocolate industry – suggested she wanted to eat him up ‘like a Godiva chocolate ice cream.’

The young woman, now 28, at first tried to deflect the older man’s advances, replying: ‘Well that escalated quickly, lol. Honestly Max I’m flattered.

‘You’re a very attractive and successful man. But what about your marriage?’

The conversation soon became sexual, however, and one month later she says Sebrechts sent her an email with an attached video.

The file contained cell phone footage of a male playing with himself on a bed and groaning with pleasure.

The man’s face is not revealed in the X-rated clip but he says ‘Oh God I’m so hard … I want you to be here’ in a thick European accent.

The recipient told DailyMail.com the conversations were consensual and she reciprocated by sending explicit material back to him.

Today, however, she ‘wholeheartedly’ regrets speaking with Sebrechts and thinks their interaction was deeply exploitative because of the age gap and power dynamic.

‘Around that time I was very young and impressionable,’ she said.

‘I think he knew the power he had in that position, especially considering that a lot of girls look up to Crystle and he used that.’

 

However, when Sebrechts got back in touch months later in January 2018, the messages  became suggestive and sexual, screenshots show

However, when Sebrechts got back in touch months later in January 2018, the messages  became suggestive and sexual, screenshots show 

In one email to the woman Sebrechts made sexual comments about her clothing

When she turned down Sebrechts's proposition and asked about his marriage, Sebrechts replied: 'I love my wife more than anything'

When she turned down Sebrechts’s proposition and asked about his marriage, Sebrechts replied: ‘I love my wife more than anything’

 Instead, she and other Miss USA state titleholders received an email in January casually informing them of a ‘structural change’ within the pageant.

‘Max Sebrechts will no longer serve as the Miss USA Organization Vice President and will be focusing his efforts on other business ventures,’ the note read. Nothing was released publicly.

DailyMail.com understands that several of the alleged harassment victims were unhappy about how their complaints were resolved but were worried that speaking out would damage their modeling prospects.

They were also upset that Stewart oversaw the inquiry into her own husband and didn’t pass it over to an independent investigator.

Their claims were repeated when the whistleblower blasted out an accusatory email across the Miss Universe pyramid on June 28, saying leadership covered up a #metoo scenario and warning: ‘Shame on this organization. The women are willing to go public.’

Some within the nationwide Miss USA network of state and city pageants say they only learnt of the allegations when it was forwarded to them.

‘That is absolutely unacceptable. The brand is supposed to be giving women a voice and uplifting women,’ said one such person.

‘There has always been an imbalance in the power dynamic in this industry that allows men to get away with this behavior. I won’t be complicit in this. It needs to change.

‘Miss USA and Miss Universe truly should be about women, run by women, providing amazing opportunities for women.’

Screenshots show him sending flirty messages to one of the women who later complained

Screenshots show him sending flirty messages to one of the women who later complained

The anonymous complaint accused Sebrechts of ‘hitting on’ a string of 2021 finalists. Screenshots show him sending flirty messages to one of the women who later complained 

Miss USA 2021 contestant says VP invited her up to his presidential suite 

He had never before sent her a personal message on Instagram, never called her ‘Missy’ – and had certainly never urged her to come to his presidential suite.

The young contestant had enjoyed every minute of the Miss USA 2021 experience up to that point and was in awe of the pageant’s glamorous entrepreneur owner and former winner, Crystle Stewart. 

So when Stewart’s husband Max Sebrechts invited her upstairs to see the ‘spectacular’ views she politely declined, sensing it wouldn’t be appropriate to be alone with the married vice president.

She had little choice later that day, however, when Sebrechts volunteered to carry a costume upstairs to her room at the River Spirit Casino Resort in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

‘The standard protocol for anyone who escorted you to your room is that they would ride the elevator with you, get off at your floor then watch from the elevator bank as you walked to your room to see that you got inside safely,’ the contestant told DailyMail.com. 

DailyMail.com obtained screenshots of Sebrechts chatting up a contestant through Instagram. The woman said he invited her up to his presidential suite

DailyMail.com obtained screenshots of Sebrechts chatting up a contestant through Instagram. The woman said he invited her up to his presidential suite

‘But he keeps walking down the corridor with the costume. I open the door and hold it open, he puts it down, walks all the way into the room and sits down and cracks open an energy drink. I was like, oh God. 

‘I would have felt comfortable because this is someone who runs an organization that I trust and believe in. But having the context of those messages earlier, it’s just running through my mind, what is going on here?’

The contestant, who shared her story on condition of anonymity, claims Sebrechts talked about the pageant and his business dealings before standing up to leave. 

‘He goes to hug me, which feels relatively normal. And then he caresses my hair and pulls me in very, very tight and does a very deep exhale. It was a very intimate hug,’ she said. 

‘He whispers in my ear ‘you’re so beautiful’ and he kisses me on the cheek but really not my cheek, more like the corner of my mouth. 

‘It felt like he was setting the stage for me to make the next move but I just stepped back and I was like, oh well you know, I had a great time at the pageant.’ 

The contestant claimed Sebrechts didn’t exit the room but instead sat down again until she insisted she needed to pack and leave. 

‘We start walking to the front door and he goes in and does the same song and dance,’ she added.

‘It’s longer this time, he kissed me and again it’s not my cheek, it’s the corner of my mouth. I know it’s not the absolute worst thing that can happen in a situation like that but it’s like he was opening the door for something to happen. 

‘It was alarming because he was way too comfortable the way he went about it all. And if he was comfortable doing this all so boldly at the Miss USA level then how comfortable is he at the state or local level? 

‘It made me concerned for all the girls he could have come into contact with.’

 Stewart declined to speak about her husband’s conduct, instead referring our inquiries to a rep.

But she did address the allegations in a January 18 conference call obtained by DailyMail.com in which she advised state directors on how to ‘armor’ themselves when responding to questions about Sebrechts.

‘Is this the easiest thing to do, no. I want to make sure that you can speak and say, no, a thorough investigation was done, it was definitely taken very seriously, almost went to jail,’ Stewart said in a clip first obtained by YouTuber Natly Denise.

Stewart explained that she had set up an email system where contestants or franchisees could air grievances with a ‘third party human resources company’.

But she immediately added: ‘Will I know what’s on there, yes, so if there’s something against me so be it.’Explaining the complaint made against her husband, Stewart confirmed he had carried a dress into a contestant’s room.

‘He went into the hotel room to speak with her. They talked. When he hugged her goodbye … she felt uncomfortable,’ Stewart told the call.

Stewart married Sebrechts at a lavish 2014 ceremony at the French-inspired Chateau Cocomar estate in Houston

Stewart married Sebrechts at a lavish 2014 ceremony at the French-inspired Chateau Cocomar estate in Houston

Sources close to Stewart, 41 ¿ Miss USA 2008 ¿ say she split from Sebrechts when allegations about his conduct first emerged

Sources close to Stewart, 41 – Miss USA 2008 – say she split from Sebrechts when allegations about his conduct first emerged

‘Hearing it was uncomfortable for me. It doesn’t sit right and these young ladies shouldn’t feel uncomfortable, period.

‘What’s been going around that’s not true is that contestants had sex with him … Max voluntarily stepped down. Even if he didn’t volunteer it was going to be enforced by myself.’

Stewart also provided the precise wording of two texts in which her husband hinted at having a favorite contestant whom he hoped would become Miss USA.

‘One said to a contestant “looking good” and the other one was saying that “you are my personal favorite and we’re doing everything that we can for **** to win Miss Universe so you can be Miss USA”,’ Stewart revealed.

‘Should they have been sent, absolutely not … It could be “hello how’s your mom”, direct messages should not be sent to contestants especially from the vice president of the organization, period.’

After winning her Miss USA title 14 years ago, Stewart landed roles in several Tyler Perry movies and sitcoms, founded the Miss Academy, a finishing school for aspiring models, and operated the Miss Houston pageant.

In December 2020 it was revealed that her Miss Brand firm had snagged lucrative licensing agreements to take over the national running of Miss USA and Miss Teen USA.

‘I’m so thrilled and I’m so excited,’ she told Good Morning America. ‘Miss USA will be pageantry re-imagined.’

Stewart (pictured in 2015) was Miss USA titleholder in 2008 and was also Miss Texas. O'Keefe said the 'entire staff' is from the Houston area, where Gabriel is located

Stewart (pictured in 2015) was Miss USA titleholder in 2008 and was also Miss Texas. O’Keefe said the ‘entire staff’ is from the Houston area, where Gabriel is located 

Miss Montana Heather Lee O'Keefe claimed this year's Miss USA contest was rigged

R'Bonney Gabriel took the crown on October 3, but was left alone on stage after her fellow contestant left after her crowning. She has denied that the contest was rigged

Stewart’s reign as Miss USA supremo first ran into turmoil this week following accusations that R’Bonney Gabriel (right) the reigning Miss Texas, had an unfair advantage. Miss Montana Heather Lee O’Keefe (left) claimed the contest was rigged

 Stewart married Sebrechts at a lavish 2014 ceremony at the French-inspired Chateau Cocomar estate in Houston after his elaborately staged wedding proposal made news headlines.

The Antwerp-born business management graduate took his future wife for a surprise helicopter ride before landing in front of her parents’ house in Missouri city.

Family members raced outside wearing t-shirts emblazoned with ‘True Love is Crystle Clear’ and ‘Say Yes’ as Sebrechts got down on one knee and popped the question.

Until their apparent estrangement the pair shared a $900,000, four-bed townhouse on a swank gated estate in Houston.

A close pal of Stewart told DailyMail.com that Sebrechts no longer has anything to do with her pageant empire and the pair only speak about their two young children.

Her supporters say she breathed fresh life into Miss Houston and Miss USA, made it more profitable and has been an ‘exemplary leader’.

Stewart’s reign as Miss USA supremo first ran into turmoil following accusations that R’Bonney Gabriel, the reigning Miss Texas, had an unfair advantage in the 2022 final.

Heather Lee O’Keefe, Miss Montana, told ABC that Gabriel was handed extra sponsorship money and coaching by Miss Academy, an accusation that Stewart went on TV to deny.

She also denied that there was anything suspicious about Gabriel appearing in a promo video for a glitzy spa at the Nizuc Resort in Cancun, Mexico – a Miss USA sponsor – within 24 hours of winning.

Gabriel said she was simply a brand ambassador for the company’s affiliate MIA Beaute which was opening a news spa there.

A spokeswoman for Miss Universe said of the Sebrechts allegations: ‘The Miss Universe Organization was made aware of allegations against an employee of the Miss USA franchisee Miss Brand in late December 2021 and immediately requested a review.

‘The Miss USA franchisee, Miss Brand, removed the employee from its organization in January 2022 and new protocols and processes were established and put in place.’

Referring to the rigging investigation, the spokeswoman added: ‘After thorough deliberation, the Miss Universe Organization has suspended Miss USA franchisee Miss Brand and has taken over the Miss USA program while a comprehensive, third-party investigation led by Holland & Knight is conducted.

‘We are appreciative of the cooperation from Miss USA Director Crystle Stewart as we work through the process.’

DailyMail.com reached out to Sebrechts via multiple email accounts as well as his Facebook and Instagram pages but did not receive a reply.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk