Dark Secrets American Idol Contestants Tried To Hide

As one of the most popular reality television shows on the planet, it's no surprise that "American Idol" has been around since 2002. The reality singing competition has opened its doors for hundreds of hopefuls wanting the chance to become "the next American Idol" and has launched the careers of several past contestants, including its first-ever winner Kelly Clarkson. Aspiring singers soon followed in Clarkson's footsteps, with Jennifer Hudson, Carrie Underwood, Jordin Sparks, Scott McCreery, and Adam Lambert becoming some of the most successful artists to come out of the show. 

Since it first aired, hundreds of contestants have received their golden ticket to Hollywood. However, scandals and controversies also followed these future stars. Unfortunately, many fan-favorite contestants' dark secrets were exposed, and it tarnished their chances at winning the competition and hindered their careers. 

Take Season 9 contestant ,Joanna Pacitti, who won the hearts of viewers but was disqualified after it was revealed that she already had a record deal and toured with 98 Degrees' Nick Lachey, per Billboard. While her advantage got her booted off the show, her fumble was nothing compared to what many former contestants have gone through below. Here are the dark secrets that American Idol contestants tried to hide.

Frenchie Davis was kicked off the show due to her past

Fans of the long-running show may remember Frenchie Davis when she arrived at the Season 2 "American Idol" audition with bright yellow hair and a powerful voice. Davis found her way to the semi-finals — and then learned that producers were kicking her off the show after it was revealed that she had taken nude photographs prior to coming onto "American Idol."

According to Davis, she had taken nude photos to help pay for college and discussed in an interview with "Revealed With Rhona" how she was upfront about her past to producers. "It was during that process of background checking and all of that, that I had a conversation with producers of the show and I said, 'Hey you know, I just want to be up front and honest about this. You know, five years ago I took topless pictures. As far as I know, they are not even on the internet anymore.'" She was ultimately removed and replaced with another contestant, per Entertainment Weekly.

There has been a backlash over Davis' removal after Season 6 contestant Antonella Barba was not removed from the show after her nude and sexually explicit photos were found on the internet, per Reality TV World. Celebrities like Rose O'Donnell called "American Idol" "racist" as did Davis herself. Since her appearance, the former contestant stated that she "began doing the work to forgive [American Idol]" (via "Revealed With Rhona").

Corey Clark claimed he had an affair with judge Paula Abdul

Season 2 contestant Corey Clark was also removed from "American Idol" after he did not disclose to producers that he had a criminal record that included charges of resisting arrest and assault, per MTV News. However, Clark would be better known as the "Idol" contestant that had an affair with judge Paula Abdul during his time on the show.

Two years after his experience on "American Idol" where he placed in the Top 10, Corey spoke to MTV News about the alleged affair and how he believed the show was plotting against him and his music career. "I've been painted to a corner, and now I've sort of got to lay it all out in order for things to be straightened up. I've tried to move on with my life and career for the last two years and do my own thing, and 'American Idol' and FOX, they've just been making it really tough for me to do that," he shared.

In a "Primetime Live" special (via MTV News), Clark stated that he had a three-month affair with Abdul and that she had even helped him to further his journey on "American Idol" by choosing songs for him to sing. However, Abdul denied the relationship with her attorney, sharing a statement (via People) that called Clark a "liar and opportunist" who was seeking a book deal. According to The Washington Post, Abdul was later cleared of any wrongdoing. 

Scott Savol was arrested for domestic violence

Season 4 of "American Idol" featured contestant Scott Savol who impressed the judges at his audition with his soulful voice when he sang "Superstar" by The Carpenters. Savol made it to the Top 5 round until he was eliminated from the competition with country singer Carrie Underwood winning that season.

In 2005, The Smoking Gun unearthed Savol's disturbing past where he was arrested for domestic violence after getting physical with the mother of his baby boy in February 2001. It was reported that after Savol called his girlfriend "several vulgar names," he pushed her and threw a phone at her before making various threats. His domestic violence charge was lowered to a misdemeanor and a protective order was placed for his son and the woman. 

Although his past would have been a cause for concern for "American Idol" producers, because Savol told them about his domestic violence case, they allowed him to compete. According to MTV News, producers of the show shared, "We felt that considering Scott's honesty and his remorse, the situation did not warrant his disqualification." 

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Mario Vazquez had disturbing allegations come to light

Season 4 of "American Idol" saw contestant Mario Vazquez leave the final 12 round unbeknownst to fans. According to Entertainment Weekly, Nigel Lythgoe, a producer on the show, stated that the departure was personal and added, "We've made him a promise not to reveal what [the reasons] are." However, disturbing allegations surfaced about Vazquez that may have made fans feel uneasy. 

According to MTV News, an assistant production accountant for "American Idol" named Magdaleno Olmos alleged that he was sexually harassed by Vazquez while he was on the show. Olmos filed a lawsuit against "American Idol" and Fox for "wrongful termination" after he shared that he was fired after telling a superior about the incident. In his suit, Olmos claimed that Vazquez followed him into a bathroom and when he came out of his stall, he was asked if he wanted to have sex. However, Olmos was told that "he was crazy" and shouldn't have shared what had happened — and was ultimately let go of his position. 

According to Fox News, Vazquez was upset over the allegations and stated that he did not even know Olmos. He had also previously shared in an interview with Arjan Writes that he wasn't gay and added that he left "Idol" for "artistic reasons." Reality TV World reported that Olmos' suit was sent to arbitration.   

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Bucky Covington got in trouble with his twin brother

Season 5 contestant Bucky Covington wowed viewers at home with his country spin on songs like "Best I've Ever Had" from alternative rock band Vertical Horizon and Queen's "Fat Bottomed Girls." Covington made it all the way to the Top 8 after he was eliminated from the competition, with Taylor Hicks winning the season while fan-favorite Katherine McPhee took second place. 

Although Covington went pretty far in the competition, he did have some trouble with the law a few years prior. According to CourtTV.com (via MTV News), in 1998, Covington's twin brother Rocky was in a minor vehicle accident when a teenager hit his truck. However, because Rocky's license was suspended and revoked for speeding and drinking and driving, Rocky thought of a plan to have his identical twin Bucky take the wheel so that he wouldn't face jail time. The brothers also urged the young teen to cooperate with the story. With Bucky having a clean record, the plan worked, until both brothers were later arrested for confusing police officers. The most surprising part of it all, was that at trial, the teenager failed to identify the correct driver because the brothers looked so similar. The charges against the men were dismissed by a judge. 

The incident did not hurt Covington's chances at "American Idol," but it probably made for one of the wildest stories the show's producers had to hear!

Antonella Barba was given a 45 month prison sentence

New Jersey native Antonella Barba was an "American Idol" contestant in Season 6 and made it all the way to the Top 16 until she was eliminated. While fans might have forgotten about her stint on the reality show, her name popped up again in the news when she was arrested for drug possession in 2018. 

According to App, Barba was arrested in Norfolk, Virginia in October 2018, after police found her in " possession of nearly two pounds of the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl with intent to distribute it." The "American Idol" alum was given a 45 month prison sentence. Several months after Barba was arrested and sent to prison, a man named Justin "Cali" Issac, who had given Barba the drugs to distribute in Norfolk, was arrested and sentenced to 14 years in prison, per The Virginian Pilot.  

Barba has since been released from prison, and in April 2022 took to Instagram to share that she would be continuing her music and publishing a book. "Real talk: I've been scared to put myself out there. To be honest, approaching social media again, after not having access to it for 3 years, brings up a lot of anxiety. A few years ago, I made some really bad choices. Choices that I regret. But I've learned that the only thing I can control is the choices that I make moving forward."

Jason Castro had a secret addiction

Jason Castro was a fan-favorite on Season 7 of "American Idol" and brought something new and refreshing to the show with his folk/pop sound. He sang memorable renditions of songs like Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," and Judy Garland's "Over the Rainbow." Unfortunately, Castro placed fourth in the competition with David Cook winning that season

Even though he didn't win "Idol," Castro signed with Atlantic Records in 2009 and released his self-titled debut album the following year. In 2013, USA Today reported that Castro released his third album, "Only a Mountain," which showed a different side to Castro with the singer releasing songs about his personal struggles. The "American Idol" alum also shocked his fans when, in 2016, he revealed that he had struggled with an addiction to pornography. 

In a film with "I Am Second," Castro admitted, "Having a secret just eats at you so much. You feel like a liar the whole time." He shared that his addiction almost cost him his relationship with his then-fiancée, but after admitting to having a porn addiction and attending a support group at a church, Castro "started feeling freer." He added, "I thought this thing was too dirty, too dark to share with anybody, but once I trusted Him, we started the road [to] living a godly life." Castro and his fiancée tied the knot in January 2010 and have since welcomed five children

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Paula Goodspeed was found dead in her car

"American Idol's" audition rounds are some of the best parts of the show. However, contestant Paula Goodspeed was different than most because of her odd obsession with judge Paula Abdul. In 2005, before she got the chance to meet her idol face to face at her audition, Goodspeed shared with host Ryan Secreast, "I really like Paula Abdul a lot. She's very cool. I'm a really big fan. I make life-size drawings of Paula. I've been drawing ever since I was a little kid and my first drawing was of Paula Abdul."

Goodspeed's audition wasn't her proudest moment and she didn't get a ticket to Hollywood. In 2008, she would make headlines again after it was reported that she had committed suicide outside of Adbul's home. ABC News stated that Goodspeed was found dead in her car from an overdose after police found prescription pills. There were also photos of Abdul in her vehicle with a photo of the "Straight Up" singer also hanging on her rear-view mirror. According to People, days before her suicide, Abdul was sent flowers that she believed were from a boyfriend but soon realized they were sent to her from Goodspeed. It was also reported that Goodspeed's real name was Sandra.

ABC News also reported that police knew of Goodspeed and believed she might have been stalking Abdul. However, a relative told People that they didn't believe she was infatuated with Abdul or that she had killed herself.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Jessica Sierra was arrested twice in 2007

Jessica Sierra made it to the Top 10 round of Season 4 of "American Idol" until she was eliminated after her rendition of LeAnn Rimes' song "On the Side of Angels." But a different portrait was painted of the aspiring singer after she was arrested twice in 2007 in Tampa, Florida. 

According to People, Sierra's first arrest was in April 2007 when she was charged with domestic battery and was in possession of cocaine. Less than two weeks after she pleaded no contest to her first arrest, she was arrested again in December 2007 with multiple charges that included "disorderly intoxication, resisting arrest, felony battery and possession of cocaine," per 19 News. According to TMZ (via MTV News) the police officer who arrested Sierra detailed in a report that the "Idol" alum "was very erratic," and even offered "sexual favors" to officers.

Before her sentencing for her first arrest, Sierra was filming VH1's "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew" that later premiered in 2008. After her second arrest, Sierra was sentenced to one year in rehab and went back to Dr. Drew's rehab facility in Pasadena, California. She was also sentenced to three years of probation, per The Hollywood Reporter.  In 2010, Radar Online reported that Sierra was two years sober. She shared, "It feels amazing to be sober. I mean we did the VH1 'Celebrity Rehab' thing and after that my life just got so much better."

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Laine Hardy was arrested for spying on an ex-girlfriend

Laine Hardy became a success story when he was crowned the winner of Season 17 of "American Idol," after he had tried out in Season 16 but had failed to make it to the Top 50. During a Season 20 reunion special, in May, Hardy was welcomed back for a performance, but it aired after fans had already learned that he was arrested for spying on an ex-girlfriend, which may have confused viewers. 

According to USA Today, although he was taken into custody just days before appearing on the "American Idol" reunion, the special was taped a month before his arrest. The New York Post reported that Hardy was arrested by Louisiana State University police after he was accused of planting a recording device in the dorm room of an ex-girlfriend who later found the device and told police. He was booked into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison for "Interception and Disclosure of Wire, Electronic, or Oral Communication," and was released on April 29, 2022, the same day he was taken into custody. 

Hardy addressed his arrest on Instagram and shared, "Earlier today, I received a warrant due to allegations made against me and have been fully cooperative with the Louisiana State University Police Department. I understand that my career has thrust me into the public spotlight, and I embrace that wholeheartedly as my entire world belongs to music and my fans." USA Today reported that if he is found guilty, Hardy could face a $10,000 fine or time in prison.

Cecil Ray Baker had an incredibly tough childhood

Season 19 of "American Idol" featured 20-year-old contestant Cecil Ray Baker who admitted that the reason he auditioned for the show was for his young daughter, Ameila, who was a little older than a month at the time. Baker shared his personal struggles with host Ryan Seacreast which included a tough childhood and suffering the loss of a friend, brother, and an uncle to suicide. Although Baker received a golden ticket to Hollywood, he was ultimately eliminated after making it to the Top 24, per The Wrap.  

According to TMZ, a week after his elimination, Baker was arrested in his native Texas after he broke into the home of ex-girlfriend Mariah Lopez and assaulted her after she refused to let him see her daughter who he believes is his. A report read that after Baker entered the home, he pushed Lopez to the ground and "struck her in the face with a palm heel." He was charged with burglary of habitation with The Wrap adding that he was also charged with intent to commit assault. He was released on $15,000 bond. 

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Arthur Gunn refused to perform at the American Idol finale

Arthur Gunn, whose real name is Dibesh Pokharel, stunned fans and even judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie when he refused to sing at the Season 19 "American Idol" finale with Sheryl Crow. Gunn, who was eliminated in the Top 7, was set to perform Crow's hits "If It Makes You Happy" and "Everyday is a Winding Road" with the songstress but instead, fans watched as Top 16 contestant Graham DeFranco took his place. 

According to Variety, Gunn made the decision to not perform just five minutes before he was supposed to go on stage. After refusing to come out of his trailer, producers decided to have DeFranco, who was sitting in the audience, sing with the country star. In a since-deleted Instagram post, Gunn spoke out about his decision, but kept it vague. "What happened is not much to discuss at this point ... It was last minute decision but I couldn't help but say no cause of some personal morals and values due to unpleasant environmental experiences." He added, "It's not the show to blame, they were there long before nor anyone related to the show ... I feel upset about it as much as all you might have, and I'm sorry if I did let down anyone but I felt like all these confrontations didn't need to happen at the show."

Gunn has also had quite the "American Idol" journey after having also appeared in Season 18, where he placed second. 

Caleb Kennedy could face up to 25 years in prison

Season 19 of "American Idol" saw country singer Caleb Kennedy in the Top 5, but he had to withdraw from the competition when a video surfaced of the rising star sitting next to someone who appeared to be wearing a Ku Klux Klan outfit, per CNN

The South Carolina native's mother, Anita Guy, defended her son and told the Spartanburg Herald-Journal that the video was not what it seemed. She shared that her son and the other person were portraying characters from the horror film "The Strangers: Prey at Night," a movie in which killers are wearing masks. Kennedy took to Instagram to address his removal from "Idol" stating, "Hey y'all, this is gonna be a bit of a surprise, but I am no longer gonna be on American Idol. There was a video that surfaced on the internet and it displayed actions that were not meant to be taken in that way. I was younger and did not think about the actions, but that's not an excuse. I wanna say sorry to all my fans and everyone who I have let down." 

Unfortunately, Kennedy faced serious trouble in February 2022, when he was involved in a fatal car crash. According to E! News, Kennedy was charged with a felony DUI after he drove into a building that resulted in the death of a man. As of this writing, Go Upstate reports that Kennedy is currently at the Spartanburg County Detention Center in South Carolina after he was denied bond. If Kennedy is convicted, he could face up to 25 years in prison.