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Abdul cleared of wrongdoing in Fox 'Idol' probe

May 9th, 2005

Paula Abdul has been cleared to continue in her role as a judge on Fox's megahit "American Idol" following the completion of an investigation into claims that she had a sexual relationship and coached a former contestant on the show in 2003.

In a lengthy statement issued Friday, Fox and "Idol" producers FremantleMedia North America and 19 Entertainment said the probe had found no "corroborating evidence or witnesses" to substantiate the claims of former contestant Corey Clark that he had sexual relations with Abdul or that she gave him any "special assistance regarding his performance during the competition." However, Fox said that as a result of the Abdul controversy, it has toughened its rules on fraternization among "Idol" employees and contestants.

Abdul did acknowledge having telephone conversations with Clark while he was a contestant on the show, but according to Fox, "their accounts of those conversations differ greatly, and no evidence was uncovered to resolve the conflicts in their accounts."

As a result of the probe's findings, Fox concluded "there is insufficient evidence that the communications between Mr. Clark and Ms. Abdul in any way aided his performance," the statement said. "Further, we are confident that none of these communications had any impact on the outcome of the competition."

But in the interest of protecting "the integrity of the competition," the network has implemented "an enhanced nonfraternization policy aimed at preventing any future incidents that could even appear to call into question the relationships between contestants and judges or any other individuals working on 'American Idol.' "

Fox said the probe took 3-1/2 months and involved nearly 600 hours of legal work and interviews with 43 individuals, including Abdul and Clark. The probe was conducted by Marcellus McRae, a former federal prosecutor and partner in the firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher Llp., and Ivy Kagan Bierman, a partner in the firm of Morrison & Foerster.

Word of Abdul's relationship with Clark surfaced in May, when Clark went public with his allegations in an ABC News special. Long before there was any question about his relations with Abdul, Clark was dismissed from the "Idol" competition in 2003 because he failed to reveal a prior arrest to producers.

On Friday, ABC News said it would stand by its reporting on the Clark-Abdul matter in the May 4 special edition of newsmagazine "Primetime Live."

"We did a thorough report that speaks for itself," an ABC News spokesman said.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter


Filed under: American Idol


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