Paula Abdul Accuses American Idol Producer Nigel Lythgoe of Sexual Assault

THE ANGEL — Paula Abdul has accused former “American Idol” producer Nigel Lythgoe of sexually abusing her in the early 2000s when she was a judge on the reality show, according to a new lawsuit.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in Los Angeles, also accuses Lythgoe of sexually abusing Abdul after she left “American Idol” and became a judge on another Lythgoe show, “So You Think You Can Dance.”

The Associated Press does not typically identify alleged victims of sexual assault unless they come forward publicly, as Abdul did.

In a statement on Saturday, Abdul's attorney, Douglas Johnson, applauded the singer and dancer for speaking out publicly.


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“There is no doubt that this was a difficult decision, but Ms Abdul knows that she has been in the shoes of many other survivors of similar situations and owes this to them, and she is determined to ensure that justice is served “Johnson said.

Lythgoe issued a statement saying he was “surprised and saddened” by Abdul's statements, whom he considered a “dear” and “merely platonic” friend.

“While Paula's history of erratic behavior is known, I cannot claim to understand exactly why she would file a lawsuit that she must know is false,” Lythgoe continued. “But I can promise you that I will fight this shocking slander with all my might.”

The lawsuit alleges Abdul remained silent about the alleged assaults for years out of fear of retaliation from “one of television's most prominent game show producers.”

Before “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance,” on which he served as a judge for 16 seasons, Lythgoe was a producer on the British show “Pop Idol,” which became a global franchise that also includes the American version Abdul belongs.

According to the lawsuit, the first sexual assault occurred while Abdul and Lythgoe were traveling to tape auditions for an early season of “American Idol,” which premiered in 2002.

Abdul claims Lythgoe groped her in the elevator at her hotel after a day of filming and “started sticking his tongue down her throat.” Abdul pushed him away and ran to his hotel room as soon as the elevator doors opened.


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“In tears, Abdul quickly called one of her representatives to inform him of the attack,” the lawsuit says, “but ultimately decided not to take any action out of fear that Lythgoe would have her fired from American Idol.”

Abdul, a Grammy and Emmy winner, served as a judge for the first eight seasons until 2009.

In 2015, Abdul became a judge on So You Think You Can Dance alongside Lythgoe.

Around that time, Abdul alleged in the lawsuit, Lythgoe violently stood on top of her and attempted to kiss her during dinner at her home. Abdul said he pushed Lythgoe again and immediately left.

Abdul left the reality show after two seasons. He has not worked with Lythgoe since.

The lawsuit also accuses Lythgoe of taunting Abdul over the alleged assaults and telling him years later that they should “celebrate” because “the statute of limitations had run out.”

Abdul filed the lawsuit days before the Dec. 31 deadline of a California law that gave victims a one-year window to file sexual abuse claims after the crime expired.

More than 3,700 lawsuits have been filed in New York under a similar law that expired last month.