Nigel Lythgoe denied Paula Abdul‘s allegations that he sexually assaulted her.
“To say that I am shocked and saddened by the allegations made against me by Paula Abdul is a wild understatement,” the former American Idol executive producer, 74, said in a statement to TMZ on Saturday, December 30. “For more than two decades, Paula and I have interacted as dear — and entirely platonic — friends and colleagues.”
He continued, “Yesterday, however, out of the blue, I learned of these claims in the press and I want to be clear: not only are they false, they are deeply offensive to me and to everything I stand for.”
He concluded, “While Paula’s history of erratic behavior is well known, I can’t pretend to understand exactly why she would file a lawsuit that she must know is untrue. But I can promise that I will fight this appalling smear with everything I have.”
Lythgoe did not elaborate on what he meant by “erratic behavior.”
Abdul, 61, submitted a lawsuit on Friday, December 29, against Lythgoe as well as 19 Entertainment Inc., American Idol Productions Inc. and Dance Nation Productions Inc. She is seeking a jury trial and damages for sexual assault/battery, sexual harassment and gender violence, according to court documents obtained by Us Weekly.
The filing details multiple alleged incidents, including one in an elevator during an early season of American Idol, where Abdul served as a judge for eight seasons from 2002 to 2009.
“Upon entering the elevator, Lythgoe shoved Abdul against the wall, then grabbed her genitals and breasts, and began shoving his tongue down her throat,” the court docs claim. “Abdul attempted to push Lythgoe away from her and let him know that his behavior was not acceptable. When the doors to the elevator for her floor opened, Abdul ran out of the elevator and to her hotel room. In tears, Abdul quickly called one of her representatives to inform them of the assault, but ultimately decided not to take action for fear that Lythgoe would have her fired from American Idol.”
Her claims cover incidents that happened over several years, including one alleged incident around 2015 when Abdul was working on So You Think You Can Dance, which Lythgoe executive produces.
“Lythgoe invited her to dinner at his home to discuss other opportunities for the two to work together. Believing this to be a professional invitation, Abdul accepted,” the filing says. “Toward the end of the evening, however, Lythgoe forced himself on top of Abdul while she was seated on his couch and attempted to kiss her while proclaiming that the two would make an excellent ‘power couple.’ Abdul pushed Lythgoe off of her, explaining that she was not interested in his advances, and immediately left Lythgoe’s home. As with the earlier incident, Abdul feared she would be retaliated against or blackballed if she spoke out about the incident.”
Abdul filed her lawsuit in the Los Angeles Superior Court under California’s Sexual Abuse and Cover-Up Accountability Act, which allowed victims a one-year window to file sexual abuse lawsuits that would otherwise be outside the statute of limitations. The deadline expires on Sunday, December 31.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).