American Idol‘s top five finalist Caleb Kennedy has exited the show after a video clip of him sitting next to someone in a Ku Klux Klan mask was exposed.

The 16-year-old contestant issued an apology on Instagram, claiming the video was taken when he was younger and that his actions “were not meant to be taken in that way.”

“Hey y’all, this is gonna be a bit of a surprise, but I am no longer gonna be on American Idol,” the statement read. “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. I’ll be taking a little time off social media to better myself, but saying that, I know this has hurt and disappointed a lot of people and made people lose respect for me. 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’s mother attempted to defend the KKK-themed clip by claiming her son and companion in the video were imitating characters from the film, The Strangers: Prey at Night. She also added that her son was 12 when the clip was filmed

“I hate this has happened and how Caleb is being portrayed by people online,” she said. “This video was taken after Caleb had watched the movie ‘The Strangers: Prey at Night’ and they were imitating those characters. It had nothing to do with the Ku Klux Klan, but I know that’s how it looks. Caleb doesn’t have a racist bone in his body. He loves everyone and has friends of all races.”

Since confirming Kennedy’s exit, American Idolwill reportedly feature the final four participants with a one-contestant elimination in this weekend’s upcoming episode.

Source: NY Post