Monique Handa Shafira, Jakarta – A woman who stands accused of taking topless photographs of Miss Universe Indonesia finalists asserted on Thursday that Poppy Capella, the CEO of the local franchise for the pageant, had instructed her to do so.
Andaria Sarah Dewia, currently the sole suspect in the sexual harassment case, also refuted allegations of body shaming the finalists during the controversial photo session.
"Our client received a direct order from the CEO to perform quick body checks for gown fittings," David Pohan, an attorney representing Andaria, told reporters at the Jakarta Police headquarters.
According to the lawyer, the photo session was conducted with the consent of the finalists themselves, and they were not fully unclothed.
"Our client sought permission from finalists who had tattoos or scars before taking photos. Each of them was shown previews of the results," he said. "There were no derogatory remarks made about the participants during the session."
Andaria, who formerly served as the Chief Operating Officer of Miss Universe Indonesia, expressed her distress over the police accusations and the widespread media coverage and discussions on social media, which she claims have unfairly tarnished her reputation, especially as she is the only person implicated in the case.
"I was deeply hurt by what was said in the media and on podcasts," Sarah said. "How could they do this to me? But the truth will come out. I have never body-shamed anyone."
The scandal first came to light two months ago when several Miss Universe contestants reported that they were asked to strip down to their underwear for "body checks" and subjected to topless photographs.
On August 7, the accusers filed a police complaint against Capella Swastika Karya, the company holding the license from the Miss Universe Organization to operate in Indonesia and Malaysia.
While Chief Executive Officer Poppy Capella has been questioned by the police as part of the investigation, it remains uncertain whether she will be designated as a suspect.
Poppy has strongly denied any involvement in the topless photo session.
[The Jakarta Globe adheres to a policy of confidentiality regarding the accusers or victims of sexual harassment cases unless they themselves request to be identified.]