LOS ANGELES – There is no proof that "American Idol" judge Paula Abdul (search) had an affair with one of the show's contestants, according to FOX TV, which said Abdul will remain on the show.
An "enhanced non-fraternization policy" will be in place when Abdul and her fellow judges return next season, however, to prevent future incidents that could call into question the relationships between judges, contestants and others connected with the show, FOX officials said.
"I'm grateful this ordeal is over, and I'm so looking forward to getting back to the job I love," Abdul said in a statement issued after Friday's announcement by FOX. "Once again, I thank my fans from throughout the world for their undying love and support."
FOX announced last month it was hiring an independent counsel to investigate claims by former "American Idol" contestant Corey Clark (search) that he had a sexual relationship with Abdul when he was a contestant in 2003 and that she helped him prepare for his performances on the show. Abdul dismissed the claims as lies.
FOX said the two lawyers it hired could not substantiate Clark's allegations.
"Paula Abdul, therefore, can continue as a judge on 'American Idol,'" the network and the series' producers said.
Clark, who was booted from the show for failing to reveal a prior arrest, didn't return a call seeking comment Friday. In July, prosecutors in Sacramento County decided not to press charges against him for a hotel food fight that got out of control.
Clark's allegations had cast a shadow over the hit television show, a water-cooler phenomenon that has become a key part of FOX's ratings success. The claims first surfaced in a tabloid story and were then detailed in an ABC News report.
"Any allegations against this show we take quite seriously," FOX Entertainment President Peter Liguori said last month in announcing the investigation,
Attorneys Marcell McRae, a former federal prosecutor, and Ivy Kagan Bierman jointly handled the probe. The 3 1/2-month inquiry included interviews with 43 people and a review of material provided by Abdul and Clark.
The investigators concluded that Clark's claims of a sexual relationship "have not been substantiated by any corroborating evidence or witnesses, including those provided by Mr. Clark, and Ms. Abdul expressly denies that any such relationship ever existed."
Clark's allegations that Abdul provided help to boost his chances of winning also were not substantiated, according to the network and producers.
"Ms. Abdul acknowledges that she had telephone conversations with Mr. Clark while he was a contestant. Their accounts of those conversations, however, differ greatly and no evidence was uncovered to resolve the conflicts in their accounts," according to the statement.