A former "American Idol" contestant told ABC News' "Primetime Live" that Paula Abdul, one of the judges for the hit reality television show, provided him with off-camera tips and assistance while he was a contestant, even helping him select some of the songs he would sing.
"She was opening my eyes to like, 'Look, you sing this stuff. This is how you're going to get through,'" said Corey Clark, one of the 12 finalists during the Fox show's second season.
Clark, then 22, said that during the competition he had an off-camera relationship with Abdul, then 40, which was at first platonic but later became sexual. He said Abdul, who was herself a chart-topping singer in the late 1980s, initially told him, "I want to look out after you like I'm your mom."
He said Abdul then quickly changed her mind and said, "Well, maybe more like your special friend."
In April 2003, Clark lost his spot among the amateur singers auditioning for the grand prize of a recording contract when producers abruptly removed him for failing to inform the show that he had been arrested after a domestic dispute with his sister in October 2002.
Abdul has issued a statement in which she says she "will not dignify the false statements made by Corey Clark with a response."
"Primetime" received the following statement from "American Idol":
"Disqualified 'American Idol' contestant Corey Clark was removed from the show for failing to disclose his criminal arrest history.
"Despite documented procedures and multiple opportunities for contestants to raise any concerns they may have, the producers of 'American Idol,' FreemantleMedia, 19 Entertainment and FOX were never notified or contacted by Mr. Clark, nor presented any evidence concerning his claims.
"We will, of course, look into any evidence of improper conduct that we receive. In the meantime, we recommend that the public carefully examine Mr. Clark's motives, given his apparent desire to exploit his prior involvement with 'American Idol' for profit and publicity."
Claims She Helped With Clothes, Hair, Songs
Clark said Abdul helped him with his look -- even choosing a hair stylist -- and gave him prescription cough syrup, with a prescription made out in her name, to soothe his throat.
Clark said he thought Abdul was "polishing that dust off the dirty diamond and helping me shine a little bit."
He said he and Abdul were friends for a month and then it became a romantic relationship.
Clark's parents told "Primetime Live" that their son told them at the time that he was involved with Abdul and that they expressed concern about his becoming involved with a judge while the competition was ongoing.
They also told "Primetime" that they sometimes spoke to Abdul themselves when she called their home looking for Clark.
Two of Clark's friends say he also told them about the relationship at the time and even brought Abdul to meet them.
An Issue of Publicity?
"Primetime Live" interviewed other losing contestants from the 2003 "American Idol" competition and told them about Clark's claims.
They said that if Clark's allegations about receiving secret advice and coaching from Abdul are true, then they feel that the competition was unfair.
Clark is recording his first album and writing a book. News of the book proposal was leaked to the media last month.
Clark said in recent phone conversations and in a recorded voice mail message that he played for "Primetime Live," Abdul implored him not to talk about her or publish his memoirs.
In her statement to "Primetime Live," Abdul's representative said: "He is communicating lies about Paula Abdul in order to generate interest in a book deal.''
But Clark says he is making these allegations now because "I need to set the record straight for myself.
"Unfortunately, I need to set the record straight for her too, because she was a part of it," he said. "This is me telling the truth. It just so happens to be a very explosive truth."