E! Online reports that Fox is standing its ground in banishing Frenchie Davis from American Idol over her faux kiddie porn pictures, taken five years ago when she was 18.

As we reported yesterday, an online petition drive was launched to restore Frenchie to the show. Now more details have come out about the reason she was dropped in the first place.

As reported by The Smoking Gun, Davis posed for the nude pictures, in which she simulated solitary sexual activity, for a kiddie-porn Web site. Because she was not actually a minor at the time the pictures were taken, the pictures themselves are not illegal, just distasteful. Frenchie supposedly used some of her earnings from the photo shoot to pay tuition to Howard University, where she is currently a theater major.

Frenchie quickly became an "idol" to plus-sized women throughout America, and the clothing manufacturer Just My Size, which targets specialized customers, had offered to create outfits especially for her and fellow contestant Kimberly Locke.

In defending the decision, an anonymous source (who apparently didn't want to be targeted by Franchie's online supporters) said, "There's an enormous difference between working as a topless dancer and a stripper and someone who's posing on a website geared to men's fantasies toward underage girls."

True enough, but it's hard not to sympathize with someone like Ms. Davis, who says that her proudest achievement was "getting back in school after not having the money and not being there for a year."

Idol judge Simon Cowell, who doesn't want his own popularity to be smudged by this flap, issued a statement saying that his production company would still help Frenchie attempt to further her music career. Better yet ... perhaps Fox should devote part of its enormous profits from this show toward funding college scholarships to prevent other young people from resorting to such degrading activities just to earn enough money to stay in school?

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