Paula Abdul alleged in a lawsuit that she was twice sexually assaulted by Nigel Lythgoe, the executive producer of "American Idol" and "So You Think You Can Dance."
Paula Abdul alleged in a lawsuit on Friday that she was twice sexually assaulted by Nigel Lythgoe, the executive producer of “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance.”
Abdul rose to stardom in the late 80s and built a second career as a judge of reality show competitions in the early 2000s. In the suit, she alleges that during one of the early seasons of “American Idol,” Lythgoe sexually assaulted her in an elevator.
She alleges that he shoved her against a wall, groped her breasts and genitals, and shoved his tongue down her throat. According to the suit, she tried to push him away, and as soon as the hotel door opened, she ran to her room.
Years later, Abdul was a judge on “So You Think You Can Dance.” Lythgoe invited her to his home for dinner, and she accepted, thinking it would be a professional encounter. However, according to the suit, Lythgoe forced himself on top of her while she was sitting on his couch, attempted to kiss her, and said they would make a great “power couple.”
Again, she pushed him away and fled his home, the lawsuit states.
The suit also accuses Lythgoe of verbal harassment and bullying, and alleges that Abdul was discriminated against, and was paid less than male judges on “American Idol.” The suit further alleges that the show would be edited in a misleading way to make her appear inept.
Additionally, Abdul alleges that she witnessed Lythgoe sexually assault one of her assistants in April 2015, pressing up against the assistant and groping her without consent.
“For years, Abdul has remained silent about the sexual assaults and harassment she experienced on account of Lythgoe due to fear of speaking out against one of the most well-known producers of television competition shows who could easily break her career as a television personality and of being ostracized and blackballed by an industry that had a pattern of protecting powerful men and silencing survivors of sexual assault and harassment,” the lawsuit states.
The suit alleges that Lythgoe’s behavior was common knowledge, and cites a MADtv parody in which Lythgoe was seen harassing contestants.
According to the suit, Lythgoe called Abdul once and taunted her, saying it had been “seven years and the statute of limitations had run.”
Abdul signed non-disclosure agreements as part of her employment on both reality shows, which prevented her from disclosing confidential or derogatory information.
Abdul filed the suit under California’s Sexual Abuse and Cover-Up Accountability Act, which created a one-year window to file certain sexual abuse lawsuits that would otherwise be outside the statute of limitations. The deadline to file is Dec. 31.
Abdul also sued 19 Entertainment, FremantleMedia North America, American Idol Productions, and Dance Nation Productions. The suit alleges the companies failed to take steps to discipline Lythgoe and protected him from accountability.