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Paula Abdul Files Lawsuit Against ‘American Idol’ Executive Nigel Lythgoe, Alleging Sexual Assault

Paula Abdul and Nigel Lythgoe
Paula Abdul and Nigel Lythgoe (Credits: The Today Show)

Paula Abdul has filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles accusing former “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance” producer Nigel Lythgoe of multiple instances of sexual assault. In the legal document obtained by The Post, Abdul, 61, alleges that Lythgoe, 74, assaulted her during the early seasons of “American Idol” and again in 2014 when they served as judges on “So You Think You Can Dance.”

Lythgoe, who produced “American Idol” during its peak in the 2000s and was last credited as a producer in 2014, was listed as the producer and co-creator of “So You Think You Can Dance” from 2005 to 2014.

Abdul claims that the initial sexual assault occurred in a hotel elevator during the audition phase of “American Idol.” The lawsuit describes Lythgoe forcefully shoving Abdul against a wall, grabbing her genitals and breasts, and forcefully kissing her. Abdul managed to escape the elevator, immediately informing a representative of the assault.

Paula Abdul and Nigel Lythgoe

Paula Abdul and Nigel Lythgoe (Credits: Getty Images)

Fearful of retaliation, Abdul remained silent about the allegations, given Lythgoe’s perceived power to terminate her role as a judge on the show. The second alleged assault took place in 2014 at Lythgoe’s home after a dinner invitation. Abdul contends that Lythgoe forced himself on her, proclaiming they would make an excellent ‘power couple.’ She pushed him away and left, again choosing to remain silent due to her apprehensions about Lythgoe’s executive influence.

Abdul also claims to have witnessed Lythgoe sexually assaulting one of her assistants, identified as “April,” during the filming of “So You Think You Can Dance” in 2015. Lythgoe allegedly approached from behind, pressed against April, and groped her without consent.

The lawsuit alleges that Lythgoe was aware of the inappropriate and criminal nature of his actions, even taunting Abdul over the phone, noting that the statute of limitations had passed. The suit further accuses Lythgoe of verbally insulting and belittling Abdul during discussions about launching “American Idol” in 2001.

Abdul is suing Lythgoe for sexual assault and battery, sexual harassment, gender violence, and negligence. The lawsuit also names production companies American Idol Productions, Dance Nation Productions, 19 Entertainment, and FremantleMedia North America as defendants.

The legal action comes amid a wave of high-profile figures facing sexual abuse lawsuits following legislative changes in New York and California, temporarily waiving the statute of limitations on such claims. Notable figures such as Sean “Diddy” Combs, Axl Rose, and Jermaine Jackson have also been subject to recent suits alleging sexual assaults. The Post has reached out to Lythgoe’s representatives for comment.

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