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Paula Abdul Sues Nigel Lythgoe For Multiple Sexual Assaults

Incidents allegedly took place while Abdul was a judge on 'American Idol' and 'So You Think You Can Dance'
Paula Abdul on Dec. 10, 2023 in New York (photo: Roy Rochlin / Getty Images).

On Friday (Dec. 29) Paula Abdul filed a lawsuit in in Los Angeles County Superior Court against former American Idol producer Nigel Lythgoe, claiming he sexually assaulted her in the early 2000s at an Idol taping and again in 2015 while she was a judge on the Lythgoe-produced So You Think You Can Dance.

According to Abdul’s suit, which was filed under California’s Dec. 31-expiring Sexual Abuse and Cover-Up Accountability Act, the first alleged incident took place during the unspecified “initial seasons” of Idol, while she was traveling for the show’s auditions.

“Lythgoe shoved Abdul against the wall, then grabbed her genitals and breasts and began shoving his tongue down her throat,” the suit claims. “Abdul attempted to push Lythgoe away from her and let him know his behavior was not acceptable. When the doors to the elevator for her floor opened, Abdul ran out of the elevator and to her hotel room. In tears, Abdul quickly called one of her representatives to inform them of the assault but ultimately decided not to take action for fear that Lythgoe would have her fired from American Idol.”

The second alleged assault happened at Lythgoe’s home, where he’d invited Abdul for what she thought was a business dinner. “Toward the end of the evening, however, Lythgoe forced himself on top of Abdul while she was seated on his couch and attempted to kiss her while proclaiming that the two would make an excellent ‘power couple,'” says the filing. “Abdul pushed Lythgoe off of her, explaining that she was not interested in his advances, and immediately left Lythgoe’s home. As with the earlier incident, Abdul feared she would be retaliated against or blackballed if she spoke out against the incident.”

Abdul says she remained silent for years “due to fear of speaking out against one of the most well-known producers of television competition shows who could easily break her career as a television personality and being ostracized and blackballed by an industry that had a pattern of protecting powerful men and silencing survivors of sexual assault and harassment.”

Further, Abdul says her contract prohibited her “from publicly discussing anything that might be deemed ‘confidential business information’ (including information about the judges, hosts or production entities or staff) and/or which would be perceived as ‘derogatory.'”

In addition to her alleged assaults, Abdul says Lythgoe assaulted one of her assistants, identified in the suit as “April,” at a Dance taping in 2015.