Paula Abdul Accuses American Idol Producer of Sexual Assault in New Lawsuit

Abdul alleges that Nigel Lythgoe sexually assaulted her while she was a judge on both American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance.

Paula Abdul Accuses American Idol Producer of Sexual Assault in New Lawsuit
Photo:Tinsletown (Shutterstock)

Paula Abdul, a Grammy-winning entertainer and former judge on American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance, has sued Nigel Lythgoe, the programs’ producer, for sexual assault and harassment.

On Friday, Abdul filed the suit in Los Angeles County Superior Court. In it, Abdul claimed that during her tenure on Idol—between the years of 2002 to 2009—Lythgoe sexually assaulted her on one occasion. The suit also alleges that he assaulted her a second time, while she was a judge on SYTYCD, between the years of 2013 and 2016.

According to the filing, the first alleged assault occurred when Abdul and Lythgoe were traveling for audition tapings. Lythgoe, it’s alleged, “shoved Abdul against the wall” of an elevator and forcibly kissed and groped her body. “Abdul attempted to push Lythgoe away from her and let him know that his behavior was not acceptable,” the complaint alleges. In the second alleged assault, Lythgoe “forced himself on top of Abdul while she was seated on his couch and attempted to kiss her” when she attended a dinner to discuss work-related matters at his home in 2015. According to Abdul, he told her he thought they’d make a “power couple” before she pushed him off of her and promptly left.

Additionally, Abdul alleges that while working for Lythgoe, she was subjected to harassment by show executives and that her male peers were paid more than she was. In the filing, Abdul recalled that she joined the Idol cast despite an incident during an early meeting in which Lythgoe “verbally insulted and belittled her, calling her a “has been” who “probably wouldn’t be known by the show’s contestants.”

In a statement to TMZ, Lythgoe called the accusations in the suit “false” and “deeply offensive.”

“To say that I am shocked and saddened by the allegations made against me by Paula Abdul is a wild understatement,” he said. “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.”

Representatives for Lythgoe and Abdul did not immediately respond to Jezebel’s request for comment.

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