FOX, 'Idol' Launch Formal Probe Of Paula Abdul Sex Scandal

Former contestant claims judge coached him, slept with him.

The tables have officially been turned on Paula Abdul, whose own fate on "American Idol" is now in the hands of a panel who'll pass judgment.

FOX and the producers behind the hit series have hired an independent counsel to investigate Corey Clark's claims that Abdul had sex with and coached the singer while he was a contestant during the 2003 season.

Addressing the Television Critics Association on Thursday (July 28), FOX Entertainment President Peter Liguori called the show's credibility "extraordinarily important to us" and said, "Any allegations against this show we take quite seriously," according to The Associated Press.

Liguori said the investigation's results are expected soon and will be made public. He did not address whether Abdul would be fired if the claims proved true. Clark has said he does not think she should lose her job, noting, "she didn't do nothing but have sex" (see "Corey Clark Meeting With 'Idol' Producers Over Paula Flap").

In the past, FOX has kicked off contestants who have lied about criminal activity, including Clark himself (see " 'Idol' Dismisses Corey Clark After Battery Charges Surface"). Abdul has denied Clark's allegations (see "Paula Abdul Denies Affair Allegation As 'Idol' Producers Investigate").

So far, however, FOX and the "Idol" producers have continued to support the judge, allowing her to finish the fourth season and then hiring her for "So You Think You Can Dance," which airs later this summer.

Abdul has been questioned, along with Clark and other corroborating witnesses. Liguori said the investigators, who are experienced "in this type of inquiry," are not being rushed by the network so as to clear up the situation in time for "Idol" auditions in August. "I'd rather be able to come to a ... definitive answer and conclusion," he said.

Around the same time Clark's debut album hit stores last month (see "Corey Clark Nabs Scott Storch, Peas Members For His 'Hot To Death' LP"), he was arrested for misdemeanor battery after a food fight in Sacramento hotel (see "Food Fight Puts Corey Clark In Another Messy Situation"). Charges were later dropped.

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