Paula Abdul Accuses Former “American Idol” Producer Nigel Lythgoe of Sexual Assault in New Lawsuit

In a shocking turn of events, Paula Abdul, former judge on “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance,” has filed a lawsuit accusing former “American Idol” executive producer Nigel Lythgoe of “multiple sexual assaults” and harassment during her tenure on both shows.

Allegations of Sexual Assault: A Disturbing Incident

According to court documents filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday, Abdul claims she experienced a strained relationship with “American Idol” producers, contending unequal pay compared to male judges and enduring taunts and bullying by show executives and employees. The most harrowing allegation involves an incident during one of the early seasons of “American Idol.”

The court papers state that during the show’s regional auditions, Lythgoe sexually assaulted Abdul in a hotel elevator. It describes how Lythgoe forcefully shoved her against the wall, groped her genitals and breasts, and forcibly kissed her. Abdul, in an attempt to resist, pushed Lythgoe away and fled the elevator when the doors opened for her floor.

Fear of Retaliation: Silence Maintained

The court documents reveal that Abdul immediately reported the incident to her representatives but chose not to take action due to fear that Lythgoe would retaliate and have her fired from the show. This fear of retaliation persisted when Abdul, in 2015, signed a contract to appear as a judge on Lythgoe’s production, “So You Think You Can Dance.”

During a dinner at Lythgoe’s home to discuss career opportunities, Abdul alleges that Lythgoe once again made unwanted advances, attempting to force himself on her while proclaiming they would make an “excellent power couple.” Despite resisting and leaving immediately, Abdul did not speak out about the incident, fearing the potential consequences on her career.

Breaking the Silence: A Courageous Stand

The lawsuit contends that Abdul remained silent for years due to the fear of challenging one of the television industry’s most prominent producers. However, she is now determined to break the silence, filing a suit seeking unspecified damages. The charges include sexual assault/battery, sexual harassment, gender violence, and negligence.

Entities Named in Lawsuit

In addition to Lythgoe, the lawsuit names 19 Entertainment Inc., Fremantle North America, American Idol Productions, and Dance Nation Productions. The legal action seeks accountability not only for Lythgoe’s alleged actions but also for the entities associated with the production of the shows where the incidents occurred.

As the legal proceedings unfold, this case sheds light on the challenges individuals face in the entertainment industry and underscores the importance of addressing issues of harassment and assault to create a safer and more equitable workplace.


Q1: What specific allegations does Paula Abdul make against Nigel Lythgoe?

A1: Abdul alleges “multiple sexual assaults” and harassment by Nigel Lythgoe during her time as a judge on “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance.”

Q2: When did the alleged sexual assault incident take place?

A2: The incident in question occurred during one of the early seasons of “American Idol” while Abdul and Lythgoe were on the road for the show’s regional auditions.

Q3: Why did Paula Abdul choose not to take immediate action after the incident?

A3: Abdul feared retaliation and being fired from the show if she took action against Lythgoe, prompting her to remain silent at that time.

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