'American Idol' Contestant Oliver Steele Defends Katy Perry Against 'Bullying' Allegations

Steele finished in the Top 8 on season 21 of 'American Idol' last month.

American Idol alum Oliver Steele clapped back at accusations about Katy Perry's bullying last week, penning a defense of the singer on Instagram.  

"I've seen a lot of rumors going around the internet about Katy Perry possibly leaving Idol and I don't necessarily know what’s true and what's not. Here is what I know about @katyperry," the 24-year-old musician wrote. 

Steele made it to the Top 8 on season 21 of American Idol last month, where Iam Tongi was crowned winner. Perry clashed with several contestants during the show's most recent run, notably for comments that contestant Sarah Beth Liebe said she felt were "mom shaming." Since then, fans have speculated that Perry may not return as a judge for future seasons. 

"Katy is not a bully, nor does she shame people," Steele wrote on Instagram. "I remember being nervous at my audition, nervous during Hollywood week, hell even nervous throughout various points in the competition. Katy has an incredible ability to not just tell what emotional state you’re in, but to be able to tell what’s holding you back. I love all the judges, but Katy always seemed to be able to look into my soul and tell exactly what was troubling me, or what it was I was struggling with." 

Steele explained that Perry was the one who ultimately helped him find himself as an artist. "It's one thing to teach someone to believe in their ability, which the judges are fabulous at. Katy reminded me to believe in who I am as an artist. She challenged me to push myself, to take on challenges that made me uncomfortable. I'm a better musician and artist after Katy Perry pushed me to believe in my potential, and to exceed my limitations." 

He finished his comments with a request that Perry remain on the show. "I dunno if you’ll see this, but I hope you stay on American Idol," he wrote. "You're a guiding light, an incredible teacher. And you made me believe that I am my own hero. Thank you for everything." 

Perry's controversial exchange with Liebe first began in March, when the contestant arrived at her audition. As the young mother introduced herself, the judges all seemed shocked to learn she was 25, with 38-year-old Perry noting the singer looked 16. When Liebe told the judges that she was a mother of three, Perry stood up fanning herself in apparent shock.

"If Katy lays on the table, I think I'm going to pass out," Liebe said. 

"Honey, you've been laying on the table too much," Perry quipped, referencing the young mother's family.

Shortly after the audition aired, Liebe took to her TikTok account to comment on Perry's joke, saying it "wasn't super kind."

"It was embarrassing to have that on TV, and it was hurtful and that's that," she said, adding, "I think that women supporting and uplifting other women is so cool and I think that mom shaming is super lame and I think that it's hard enough to be a mom and it's hard enough to be a woman."

Liebe concluded her message, saying, "I see all of the young moms and just moms in general... keep loving your babies. Nobody deserves to feel crappy about that."

Perry herself is mom to 2-year-old daughter Daisy with her longtime love, Orlando Bloom.

Perry has also received criticism for her critiques of other contestants with some saying the pop star was coming down too hard on the contestants. She has not commented on the criticisms.