Singing and dancing, and young women in evening gowns: It’s the stuff of any beauty/scholarship pageant, and the “Belle of the Blue” at Georgetown College in Kentucky is no different.
But the behind-the-scenes drama at this year’s pageant wasn’t so pretty. Tension over “Miss Congeniality’s” talent presentation which included roping a stuffed pig escalated to the point that a college employee now faces a misdemeanor assault charge for allegedly grabbing the student during a pageant rehearsal.
Kathy Wallace, director of student activities, was charged Monday with fourth-degree assault, Georgetown police said.
The charge stems from an incident that happened during a Friday night rehearsal for the annual “Belle of the Blue” pageant at John Hill Chapel on the Georgetown campus.
The student, Keaton Lynch Brown, 18, a Georgetown College freshman from Brentwood, Tenn., would not comment Tuesday when contacted at her dorm room. But she told police in a complaint that Wallace grabbed her by the arm, pulled her from the stage and dragged her down some steps until she hit a door facing. The warrant says Wallace continued to hold Brown, “intentionally causing physical injury” to her arm, elbow, rib cage and hip.
Brown and Wallace became at odds during a rehearsal of talent presentations. Brown’s dance presentation drew upon her love of horses and included a lasso routine that ended with her roping a stuffed pig.
Contestant Suzanne Lunsford, 20, didn’t see the altercation but said tension between Brown and Wallace had been building during the week “and neither were really dealing with it properly.”
“There was some controversy over whether her talent was lady-like,” Lunsford said. “It had never really been done before.”
Brown, who was voted “Miss Congeniality” by the other contestants before the pageant, went on to compete Saturday night. Fourteen young women were in the contest put on by the Association of Georgetown Students.
The pageant, a Georgetown tradition since the 1950s, includes impromptu questioning from a panel of judges, an evaluation of poise in evening gowns, a tabulation of scholastic records, and a talent presentation.
A police report says Brown did not seek medical treatment Friday, but Assistant Police Chief Greg Reeves said it is his understanding she went to a hospital in Lexington, Ky., on Monday.
Wallace turned herself in to police on Monday and she was booked at the Scott County jail, where she was released on her own recognizance, Reeves said. She was not at work Tuesday and could not be reached for comment. Her attorney, Kathy Stein of Lexington, had no comment.
Wallace has been employed at Georgetown College since 1991 and has been in the student life department since 1996, said college spokesman Jim Durham. College administration officials are investigating the incident, Durham said.
Sara Ramsey, 19, the chairwoman of the pageant, said she hurts for both Brown and Wallace, who served as an adviser to student government. Ramsey described Brown as an outgoing student and Wallace as a person who loves students.
Distributed by Knight Ridder/ Tribune Information Services.