Paula Abdul Accuses American Idol Producer Nigel Lythgoe of Sexual Assault

By Stermy 3 Min Read

Grammy-winning entertainer Paula Abdul, renowned for her roles as a judge on “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance,” has taken legal action against Nigel Lythgoe, the executive producer of these programs. Filed on Friday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, the lawsuit, obtained by CNN, alleges sexual assault, harassment, gender violence, and negligence.

In the intricate details of the complaint, Abdul recounts two separate incidents—one in the early 2000s and the other in 2015. The first incident involved an elevator encounter during regional auditions for “American Idol,” where Abdul contends that Lythgoe shoved her against a wall, engaging in unwanted physical contact.

“Abdul attempted to push Lythgoe away from her and let him know that his behavior was not acceptable,” the complaint reads, portraying Abdul’s resistance to the inappropriate advances.

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The second incident unfolded in 2015 at Lythgoe’s residence during a business dinner. Abdul asserts that Lythgoe forced himself on top of her on his couch, attempting to kiss her, a situation she deemed purely professional. She rebuffed his advances, expressing disinterest.

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Fearful of professional repercussions, Abdul refrained from reporting the incidents at the time. She also claims to have witnessed Lythgoe assaulting her assistant in a separate incident in 2015.

Lythgoe vehemently denies the allegations, labeling them as “false” and “deeply offensive” in a statement to TMZ. He asserts his determination to combat what he perceives as an “appalling smear.”

Abdul’s legal pursuit extends to co-defendants: 19 Entertainment Inc., FremantleMedia North America Inc., American Idol Productions Inc., and Dance Nation Productions Inc. She accuses them of gender violence, sexual harassment, and negligence, alleging that they failed to oversee Lythgoe, thereby endorsing his actions. Abdul is seeking unspecified punitive damages.

The complaint underscores Abdul’s claims of compensatory discrimination during her tenure on “American Idol,” citing disparate treatment compared to male counterparts. She describes being a target of constant taunts, bullying, humiliation, and harassment.

The alleged incidents have left Abdul grappling with “severe emotional distress, emotional anguish, fear, anxiety, humiliation, embarrassment, and other physical and emotional injuries.” These injuries, as per the lawsuit, are deemed “substantial, continuing, and permanent.”

Abdul’s lawsuit is filed under California’s Sexual Abuse and Cover Up Accountability Act, providing a legal avenue for claims of damages resulting from sexual assault outside the statute of limitations.

Her lawyer, Douglas L. Johnson, emphasized the difficulty of the decision, underscoring Abdul’s commitment to seeking justice for herself and others in similar situations.

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