Caleb Kennedy, a 16-year-old "American Idol" contestant from Roebuck, has exited the singing competition after a video that appears to show Kennedy and a friend wearing what has been likened to a Ku Klux Klan hood surfaced on the internet.
The three-second Snapchat post was recorded when Kennedy was 12 years old and was meant to be a reference to a movie the friends had been watching, according to Kennedy's mother, Anita Guy, who talked with the Spartanburg Herald-Journal.
"I hate this has happened and how Caleb is being portrayed by people online," Guy told the Herald-Journal. "This video was taken after Caleb had watched the movie 'The Strangers: Prey at Night' and they were imitating those characters."
One of the characters in the movie is "The Man in the Mask," who is depicted wearing a sack-cloth mask with the eyes cut out and a drawn-on mouth.
"It had nothing to do with the Ku Klux Klan but I know that's how it looks," she said. "Caleb doesn't have a racist bone in his body. He loves everyone and has friends of all races."
A representative from "American Idol" confirmed to The Post and Courier that the 16-year-old will no longer be moving forward in the competition.
Guy did not respond to The Post and Courier's attempts to reach out.
Kennedy was a top five contender set to perform in the semifinals for the upcoming May 16 episode alongside Chayce Beckham, Casey Bishop, Grace Kinstler and Willie Spence. The four will carry on without him, according to an "American Idol" representative.
Kennedy released a statement on social media that announced his departure from the show and addressed the video.
"There was a video that surfaced on the internet and it displayed actions that were not meant to be taken in that way," he typed. "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."
He continued to say he would be taking time off social media to better himself.
"I know this has hurt and disappointed a lot of people and made people lose respect for me," he said. "I’m so sorry! I pray that I can one day regain your trust in who I am and have your respect! Thank you for supporting me."
Kennedy isn't the first "American Idol" contestant to exit the show following a controversy.
In the first season, Delano Cagnolatti made it to the final round but was eliminated after revealing he lied about his age. In the fifth season, twins Terrell and Derrell Brittenum were disqualified after being arrested for identity theft.
It is not clear whether "American Idol" removed Kennedy from the competition this season or if he exited the show of his own accord.