Paula Abdul Accuses ‘American Idol’ Producer Nigel Lythgoe Of Sexual Assault


In a lawsuit filed on December 29, 2023, Paula Abdul claims that she was sexually assaulted twice by Nigel Lythgoe. The alleged incidents occurred during Abdul’s involvement in the early seasons of “American Idol.”


Elevator Encounter

"Renowned entertainer Paula Abdul takes legal action, alleging sexual assault by 'American Idol' producer Nigel Lythgoe. Details on the lawsuit and industry impact."

During one season of “American Idol,” Abdul asserts that Lythgoe assaulted her in an elevator. The lawsuit details an incident where she was shoved against a wall, subjected to unwanted touching of her breasts and genitals, and forcibly kissed. Abdul managed to escape when the hotel door opened.

Unwanted Advances at Home

Years later, when Abdul was a judge on “So You Think You Can Dance,” Lythgoe invited her to his home under the guise of a professional meeting. However, Abdul claims that Lythgoe made unwanted advances, attempting to kiss her and suggesting they could be a “power couple.” She pushed him away and left his residence.


Additional Allegations

The lawsuit extends beyond physical assault, alleging verbal harassment, bullying, and gender-based discrimination. Abdul claims she was paid less than male counterparts on “American Idol” and that the show intentionally portrayed her in a misleading manner to undermine her credibility.

Witness to Assault

Abdul further alleges witnessing Lythgoe sexually assaulting one of her assistants in April 2015, emphasizing a pervasive pattern of misconduct.


Silence Broken

The lawsuit points out Abdul’s long silence, attributing it to fear of reprisal from Lythgoe, a prominent figure in the television industry. It cites the #MeToo movement’s impact on breaking the silence around sexual harassment and assault.

Legal Action

Paula Abdul filed the lawsuit under California’s Sexual Abuse and Cover-Up Accountability Act, taking advantage of a one-year window that allows certain sexual abuse lawsuits beyond the usual statute of limitations. The deadline for filing is December 31.

Companies Named in Lawsuit

In addition to Lythgoe, Abdul is suing 19 Entertainment, FremantleMedia North America, American Idol Productions, and Dance Nation Productions. The lawsuit alleges that these entities failed to address Lythgoe’s behavior and shielded him from accountability.

Industry Awareness

The lawsuit asserts that Lythgoe’s alleged behavior was an open secret in the industry, citing a MADtv parody that depicted Lythgoe harassing contestants.

Response and Timing

Lythgoe allegedly taunted Abdul about the statute of limitations in a phone call. The lawsuit suggests a culture of fear and intimidation that prevented Abdul from speaking out until now.

Paula Abdul’s legal action sheds light on serious allegations against a prominent figure in the entertainment industry, emphasizing the importance of accountability and addressing sexual misconduct.

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