Melissa King(Photo: Gannett)
WILMINGTON, Del. (The Wilmington, Del. News Journal)-- A week ago, Melissa King was a typical teen, with dreams of working for a fashion magazine or reporting from the sidelines of an NFL game.
She was a cheerleader, an advocate for foster children -- she was in the system herself from age 12 to 18 -- and a two-time beauty pageant winner.
But she also had her problems. Among them, she is wanted in Maryland for failing to appear in court last year on citations for theft and possessing alcohol as a minor. The 18-year-old former Miss Delaware Teen USA was cited in June for allegedly stealing money from a city bus fare box and on the alcohol charge in August. A warrant was issued in August and October, respectively, in each case.
Last week, the Miss Universe Organization named Hailey Lawler, a 17-year-old senior at Padua Academy and first runner-up in the teen pageant, to replace King.
King wanted to make a name for herself. But not in the way that came to pass last week.
That's when a porn site posted a sex video featuring a woman who sounds and looks identical to King, billing her as the star.
King denied to The News Journal that she appeared in the film. Soon afterward, the porn site posted a 30-second clip from the sex video. In it, the woman identifies herself by name before reading a release form indicating she is not being coerced.
"I, Melissa King, am doing this scene of my own free will and I am of sound mind and body. I am not under the influence of drugs or any mind-altering substances," she says. "After the scene is filmed, I know I will have released all rights to the footage. Anything contained in the footage may be used however (inaudible) chooses. All other model agreements are stated in the model release. I willingly sign to do this scene."
Fallout from the video led King to resign last Tuesday and take down her Facebook page. She also reportedly received a $250,000 offer to promote a hardcore porn site.
King occasionally posts on her Twitter feed, which gained more than 5,000 followers since news of the sex video broke a week ago. A few days afterward, King re-posted a Twitter message by reality TV star Kim Kardashian: "Everyone wants happiness No one wants pain But you can't have the rainbow without a little rain."
Kardashian owes her celebrity in part to a sex video that she made with a former boyfriend.
Aside from a few minutes with The News Journal by phone, King has not responded to requests for interviews. Neither has her attorney, J. Gregory Hannigan of Hagerstown, Md.
According to her Miss Delaware Teen USA biography, King is a Delaware native who grew up in the Bethany Beach area. The bio, which was removed following her resignation, also noted that she first realized she was a talented artist in kindergarten.
"She realized she could cut a perfect circle with scissors when other student's circles were cut with rigid edges and weren't so circular," the bio said. "In fifth grade, she won a school-wide art contest for Sea Colony that every student was required to participate in, and that masterpiece still hangs somewhere in the halls of Sea Colony today."
At the age of 9, King became a gymnast and competed nationally and internationally. She also coached young children in the sport. She played soccer and was on the varsity cheerleading squad at Indian River High School.
"I am always smiling and I love being a funny person," King said in a questionnaire for the Miss Teen Delaware International pageant, which is not associated with Miss Delaware Teen USA. "But when I really want to laugh the most, I love to watch YouTube videos or hang out with my teammates from the gym. Gymnastics practices always have funny moments."
King also achieved outstanding honors during her grade school years, earning a Michael C. Ferguson scholarship and $2,000 in 2008 while an eighth-grader at Milford Middle School. Other academic awards included being inaugurated into the National Society of High School Scholars and earning the Todd O'Cropper scholarship for commendable combined outstanding achievement in athletics, community services and academics.
She was the reigning Miss Teen Delaware International 2012 when she exited foster care upon turning 18 in last March. In a pair of online videos, she spoke to those in foster care about the difficulties of leaving the program and offered advice on how they could be overcome.
Around the same time, King was charged in the two incidents in Maryland. According to the state's electronic court records, she failed to appear for both hearings and warrants were issued.
"Neither one is extraditable from Delaware," said Officer Mike Levy, police spokesman for the department in Ocean City, Md. "The warrants are on file. If she surrenders herself in Maryland, she will have to go before the court to deal with the charges."
Because both are active warrants, Worcester County court officials said the citations could not be opened without a judge's authorization.
Levy said King allegedly took money out of the bus fare box last summer. He would not provide the exact amount, but said it was less than $100.
The sex video was shot May 19, according to the release form read on camera. In a brief question-and-answer chat, an off-screen interviewer asks the woman what made her want to do her first adult video.
"I thought it would be fun, and I needed the money," the woman says. "So I just decided to do it."
King won the Miss Delaware Teen USA title in late November. The video was little known until this week, when the porn site added the billing that it starred "Miss Teen Delaware."
King remained quiet last week, aside from the occasional Tweet, such as Thursday's: "God wouldn't give you something that you couldn't handle."
She also occasionally responded or reposted messages from supporters such as Washington Post blogger Bonnie Goldstein, who told King, "There are worse things than forfeiting a tiara. I wish you the best."
Contributing: News Journal reporter Melissa Nann Burke