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Singer Paula Abdul has filed a lawsuit against well-known television and film producer, Nigel Lythgoe, accusing him of sexual assault on two occasions. Lythgoe was the executive producer of American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance. Abdul appeared as a judge during various seasons of both hit reality television shows.
In the suit filed Friday, December 29th, Abdul alleges that Lythgoe sexually assaulted her in an elevator during one of the early seasons of American Idol. According to documents obtained by TMZ, Abdul states that Lythgoe pushed her against the wall of the elevator, grabbed her in intimate areas, and attempted to force his tongue into her mouth. Abdul was able to get away and run to her hotel room.
Additionally, the suit claims that years later, when Abdul was a judge on So You Think You Can Dance, Lythgoe forced himself on top of Abdul while she was visiting his home and tried to kiss her. Abdul says she had been invited over for dinner and believed that it would be strictly professional.
In a statement made Saturday, December 30th, Lythgoe denied the allegations, saying:
“To say that I am shocked and saddened by the allegations made against me by Paula Abdul is a wild understatement. For more than two decades, Paula and I have interacted as dear – and entirely platonic – friends and colleagues. Yesterday, however, out of the blue, I learned of these claims in the press and I want to be clear: not only are they false, they are deeply offensive to me and to everything I stand for. While Paula’s history of erratic behavior is well known, I can’t pretend to understand exactly why she would file a lawsuit that she must know is untrue. But I can promise that I will fight this appalling smear with everything I have.”
As in many similar cases, the question is raised as to why so many years had passed since the incident(s) before action was taken. The suit states:
“Abdul has remained silent about the sexual assaults and harassment she experienced on account of Lythgoe 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 of being ostracized and blackballed by an industry that had a pattern of protecting powerful men and silencing survivors of sexual assault and harassment.”
Abdul had signed non-disclosure agreements as part of her employment on both reality shows, which prevented her from sharing confidential or incriminating information. She filed the suit under California’s Sexual Abuse and Cover-Up Accountability Act, which allowed a one-year window to file certain sexual abuse lawsuits that would otherwise be outside the statute of limitations. The deadline to file was December 31, 2023.
Abdul also claims she witnessed Lythgoe assault one of her assistants in 2015 when he pressed himself against the woman and groped her inappropriately.
In addition to the multiple claims of sexual assault, the suit accuses Lythgoe of verbal harassment, bullying, and wage discrimination, stating that Abdul was paid less than the male judges on American Idol.
Abdul also sued 19 Entertainment, FremantleMedia North America, American Idol Productions, and Dance Nation Productions. The suit alleges the companies failed to take steps to discipline Lythgoe and protected him. These parties have not yet made any comments about the claims.
Further information is not known at this time. Check back for updates.