Paula Abdul Accuses ‘American Idol’ Producer Nigel Lythgoe of Sexual Assault
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Former American Idol judge Paula Abdul has accused the show’s former producer Nigel Lythgoe of sexual assault in a new lawsuit. According to Abdul, the alleged assaults occurred both while she was a judge on the show and after.
Paula Abdul Accuses Nigel Lythgoe of Sexual Assault
Abdul’s new lawsuit against Lythgoe was filed Friday in Los Angeles. According to Abdul, the first assault occurred when she and Lythgoe were traveling to film auditions on an early season of American Idol. She claims Lythgoe groped her in a hotel elevator and “began shoving his tongue down her throat.”
The Associated Press reports that, according to the lawsuit, Abdul pushed Lythgoe away and ran to her hotel room, where she called her representative to report the assault. However, Abdul “ultimately decided not to take action for fear that Lythgoe would have her fired from American Idol.”
After eight seasons as a judge, Abdul left American Idol in 2009. In 2015, she sat with Lythgoe on the judging panel for So You Think You Can Dance. It was around this time, according to the lawsuit, that a second assault occurred. During a dinner at his home, Lythgoe allegedly forced himself on top of Abdul, trying to kiss her. She once again pushed him away and left.
The lawsuit also alleges that Lythgoe told Abdul years later that “they should celebrate” because “the statute of limitations had run.” Abdul filed her claim against Lythgoe before the deadline for a California law providing a one-year window for victims to file sexual abuse claims after the statute of limitations has run out.
Lythgoe Denies Abdul’s Accusations
Lythgoe said in a statement that he was “shocked and saddened” to learn of Abdul’s accusations against him, calling her a “dear” and “entirely platonic” friend. He went on to deny the allegations in Abdul’s lawsuit.
“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,” Lythgoe said. “But I can promise that I will fight this appalling smear with everything I have.”
Abdul’s lawsuit explains that she waited so long to speak out about the alleged assaults out of fear of retaliation by “one of the most well-known producers of television competition shows.”