Paula Abdul clears her name

Rumor-plagued American Idol judge Paula Abdul can finally say goodbye to the nightmarish scandal that has surrounded her since former Idol contestant Corey Clark came forth with claims that he'd engaged in a sexual relationship with her during the production of the reality show's second season. American Idol producers and the Fox network have announced that an exhaustive investigation into Clark's allegations has come up fruitless, and that Abdul will be allowed to keep her position on the Idol judge panel.

In what many believe was naught but a publicity stunt designed to draw attention to the release of his debut album, Clark appeared this May on ABC's Primetime Live to tell the world of the "special treatment" he'd received from Abdul during his stint on Idol. He claimed that Abdul had coached him on wardrobe choices and song selection, given him advice during secret phone calls, and eventually initiated sexual contact. Clark ended up being unable to put Abdul's advice to good use, as he was booted from the show when producers discovered that he'd concealed a criminal record including an arrest for alleged abuse of his sister.

Largely due to media pressure, Fox hired lawyers Marcellus McRae and Ivy Kagan Bierman to probe the matter. After meeting with Clark and his own representatives, the lawyers proceeded with their investigation. Fox will not release specific details about the investigation, but McRae and Bierman state that Clark's claims "have not been substantiated by any corroborating evidence or witnesses, including those provided by Mr. Clark himself."

Fox and the producers (19 Entertainment and Fremantle Media) released a statement saying, "We have determined, based on the findings of this thorough and detailed inquiry, that there is insufficient evidence that the communications between Mr. Clark and Ms. Abdul in any way aided his performance. Further, we are confident that none of these communications had any impact on the outcome of the competition. Paula Abdul, therefore, can continue as a judge on American Idol."

In an effort to ensure that American Idol remains free of scandal in the future, Fox will enact an "enhanced non-fraternization policy" for future seasons of the show. The network hopes that this step will prevent situations that could cast a suspicious light on the relationship between any Idol contestant and a judge or other staff.

Abdul has released her own statement concerning the investigation's outcome. "I'm grateful this ordeal is over, and I'm so looking forward to getting back to the job I love," she said. "Once again, I thank my fans from throughout the world for their undying love and support."

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