After being booted from ''American Idol'' on Monday for not disclosing to producers that he was facing charges for allegedly assaulting his younger sister last fall, finalist Corey Clark got a chance to defend himself at the beginning of Tuesday's episode. ''A story came out...about me, alleging I had beaten up my 15-year-old sister and four police officers, and that I was endangering a child, my sister,'' Clark said, via videotape. ''Basically the charges they're trying to bring against me I'm not guilty of at all.''
Fox said in a statement late Monday that producers had disqualified the cornrow-coiffed 22-year-old for keeping mum about the charges -- unlike, say, Trenyce, who was open about her 1999 felony theft conviction, which was later expunged from her record after a year of good behavior. Clark said he kept his legal troubles secret because, ''had I told the producers about it from the beginning, there's no telling what might have happened. To tell the truth, I was scared.''
The network has not yet announced whether Corey's departure will affect the show's schedule, eliminating one finalist per week until the May 21 finale. It also hasn't said whether he'll sing on the ''Idol'' finalists' charity single, which will now feature Lee Greenwood's ''I'm Proud to Be an American'' and ''God Bless the U.S.A.'' (aren't those the same song?) instead of the more peace-oriented ''What the World Needs Now Is Love.''
Clark apologized to his fellow contestants, especially those who might have taken the slot he earned had he been candid. ''To those people who could have still been here in my place, I want to apologize to them, definitely,'' he said. But don't cry for Clark, who faces trial in Topeka, Kan., for the charges on April 15. ''I will definitely keep going, that's who I am,'' he said. ''That's why I'm Corey.''