San Diego

Beauty Pageant Contestant Files Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against El Cajon Councilman

The lawsuit alleges a contestant in the 2016 Miss Middle East Beauty Pageant was sexually harassed by Kalasho

A local beauty pageant is fueling new and serious allegations against El Cajon City Councilman Ben Kalasho.

The lawsuit alleges a contestant in the 2016 Miss Middle East Beauty Pageant was sexually harassed by Kalasho.

According to the modified complaint, Kalasho made sexual advances at Paris Kargar in a dark room during a one-on-one interview.

"'You stay here with me tonight,' he allegedly said, 'you win tomorrow,'" according to the complaint.

When she refused his advances, the complaint alleges Kalasho rigged the pageant's results.

Kargar was the fourth runner up.

"We think we have substantial evidence, both circumstantial and technical," Kargar’s attorney Jimmie Davis Parker told NBC 7. "We look forward to our day in court."

Kalasho and his wife Jessica deny the allegations.

The councilman, who was elected in November, said the accusations are based on lies, greed and bruised egos. He said he was never alone with any of the contestants.

"I would have had to do that in the presence of 20 other people," said Kalasho. "My wife included, so that's just---and it’s all videotaped anyway. They do it for their ten minutes of fame or they do it for money."

According to the plaintiff's attorney, he will show evidence that proves otherwise.

"We will have numerous contestants testify that they were interviewed in a dark room, one on one with Mr. Kalasho," Parker said. "It's frankly unbelievable for him to say he was never alone with any of the girls the entire time he was at the pageant."

The original complaint was issued in May. A modified version, however, includes new plaintiffs and allegations.

The 19-page complaint includes the 2016 dethroned pageant queen Zhala Tawfik, contestant Paris Kargar, attorney Lina Charry and 3 Brothers Taco Shop Inc.

The taco shop owners allege Kalasho fabricated negative reviews online against the restaurant when management refused to post his campaign signs on the business property.

In the original complaint, the 2016 pageant winner Tawfiq accuses Kalasho of trying to take over her social media accounts and defaming her online.

Kalasho's lawyer said the councilman did nothing wrong. On the contrary, he said Tawfiq breached her contract.

"I think she retaliated because her crown was stripped," said Kalasho’s attorney Stephen Lios. "Her ego probably got involved."

Both sides say they're looking forward to their day in court.

Kalasho’s attorney said the councilman has offered his personal computers and phones as evidence to prove his innocence.

Parker told NBC 7, he will take him up on that offer, but only if he doesn’t cherry pick which devices are searched.

The countersuit is scheduled to be served by Wednesday.

Kalasho’s lawyer said they are ready to go to trial and that they are not planning on settling the case.

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