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Fantasia: Corey Clark's Claims a Fantasy

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Last year’s American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino has her doubts about the veracity of former contestant Corey Clark’s allegations of an affair with judge Paula Abdul.

Although they competed on the show during different seasons, Barrino, 20, says there were tight security restrictions and supervision placed on the Idol finalists who lived together in a house during her season of the competition, she tells PEOPLE.

“Let me tell you this: That house was like a prison, but a good prison,” says the single mom from North Carolina. “They have somebody who sits (and watches), and they had security guards working in shifts. There’s no way you can sneak out because there’s a gate around the house. We had a curfew. We could leave the house if we weren’t working, but we had to be back at certain time … or you’d get in big trouble the next day.”

Barrino says judges were kept at a distance, with contact limited to “maybe sometimes, after the show, they’d hug us or say something to us.” She describes Abdul as “a sweet, sweet lady. She carries herself with a whole lot of class. And she likes for us to look at her as a classy, respectable lady. … She treated all of the Idol contestants the same way.”

She also says, “Paula gave us advice on a lot of things. Randy (Jackson) gave us advice on things. Simon (Cowell) never gave advice.”

Barrino, who had a No. 1 song and whose debut album Free Yourself has gone platinum, is about to go on her first solo tour, which starts June 8 in St. Louis.

Meanwhile, this week’s Idol castoff, Anthony Fedorov, has explained this week’s sudden tearfest by Vonzell Solomon, telling the New York Post: “I just think she got caught up in … the intensity and magnitude of the whole thing.” Afterward, he said, “Everything was fine.”

The Idol finale is set for May 24-25, and interest is building. Wednesday’s ratings were up from last week, with 25.6 million viewers tuning in, according to preliminary figures.