Renowned singer Paula Abdul has taken legal action against Nigel Lythgoe, one of the executive producers of “American Idol,” accusing him of multiple instances of sexual assault during her tenure as a judge on both ‘Idol’ and “So You Think You Can Dance.”
Paula filed the lawsuit in L.A. County on Friday, December 29, detailing the alleged assaults. According to her claims, the first incident occurred during one of the early seasons of “Idol” while they were on the road for auditions. In an elevator at their hotel, Paula contends that Lythgoe forcefully groped her genitals and breasts, attempting to kiss her. Fearing retaliation, she chose not to disclose the incident immediately.
The second alleged encounter transpired in 2015 after signing a new contract for ‘SYTYCD,’ which Lythgoe also produced. Paula states that during a professional discussion at Lythgoe’s house, he forced himself on top of her, attempting to kiss her, while suggesting they would make an “excellent power couple.” She rebuffed his advances and promptly left.
Paula further claims witnessing Lythgoe groping one of her assistants during her time on ‘SYTYCD’ in 2015. In addition to the assault allegations, she accuses Lythgoe of taunting her by insinuating that the statute of limitations had run out.
Beyond the assault allegations, Paula asserts she faced harassment, discrimination, and unequal compensation during her tenure on ‘Idol.’ The lawsuit targets Lythgoe, 19 Entertainment, and FremantleMedia North America for sexual assault and battery, sexual harassment, gender violence, and negligence.
Paula has chosen to come forward now under California’s Sexual Abuse and Cover Up Accountability Act, which provides a window for plaintiffs to file claims that would otherwise be barred by the statute of limitations.