Paula Abdul Accuses American Idol Producer, Nigel Lythgoe, of Sexual Assault

Paula Abdul Accuses American Idol Producer, Nigel Lythgoe, of Sexual Assault

WBLS Staff
01/03/2024 11:39 AM EST

Paula Abdul, 61, has accused former "American Idol" producer Nigel Lythgoe, 74, of sexually assaulting her in the early 2000s when she was a judge on the reality competition show, according to a new lawsuit.

The lawsuit filed Friday in Los Angeles also accuses Lythgoe of sexually assaulting Abdul after she left "American Idol" and became a judge on Lythgoe's other competition show "So You Think You Can Dance."

Lythgoe said in a statement that he was "shocked and saddened" to hear of the allegations made by Abdul, who he said he considered a "dear" and "entirely platonic" friend.

"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 in the statement. "But I can promise that I will fight this appalling smear with everything I have."

The lawsuit states Abdul remained silent for years about the alleged assaults out of fear of retaliation by "one of the most well-known producers of television competition shows.

Before "American Idol" and "So You Think You Can Dance," on which Lythgoe served as a judge for 16 seasons, he was a producer on the British show "Pop Idol," which became a global franchise that includes the U.S. iteration starring Abdul.

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According to the suit, the first sexual assault occurred while Abdul and Lythgoe were on the road filming auditions for an earlier season of "American Idol," which premiered in 2002.

Abdul says Lythgoe groped her in the elevator of their hotel after a day of filming and "began shoving his tongue down her throat." Abdul pushed him away and ran to her hotel room when the elevator doors opened.

In tears, Abdul quickly called one of her representatives to inform them of the assault," the lawsuit says, "but ultimately decided not to take action for fear that Lythgoe would have her fired from American Idol.

Abdul, a Grammy- and Emmy-winning artist, starred as a judge for the first eight seasons, leaving in 2009.

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