Paula Abdul has named reality TV producer Nigel Lythgoe in a new lawsuit, accusing him of sexual assault.
Abdul, 61, claimed that Lythgoe, 74, assaulted her multiple times back when she was a judge on both American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance, according to court documents obtained by Rolling Stone. Abdul filed her lawsuit on Friday, December 29. (Lythgoe has not publicly addressed Abdul’s allegations. Us Weekly has reached out to both Lythgoe and Abdul for comment.)
Abdul was a judge on American Idol for its first eight seasons, beginning in 2002. Lythgoe, meanwhile, was a producer on the singing competition until 2014. According to Abdul’s lawsuit, she claimed that Lythgoe “verbally insulted and belittled” her and called her a “has-been” when they first met about her signing on as a judge. She also claimed that Lythgoe bullied her after she took the judging gig.
Abdul also alleged that Lythgoe sexually assaulted her in the elevator of a hotel room when they were traveling for auditions on one of the “initial seasons” of Idol. Abdul did not list a specific year of the encounter but claimed that Lythgoe “shoved [her] against the wall” and groped her body.
“Abdul attempted to push Lythgoe away from her. When the doors to the elevator for her door opened, Abdul ran out of the elevator and to her hotel room,” the court documents read. “Abdul quickly called one of her representatives in tears to inform them of the assault.”
Abdul chose not to address the accusations at the time out of fear of retaliation, claiming in her lawsuit that Lythgoe had the power to fire her from American Idol.
Several years later, Abdul claimed that Lythgoe assaulted her for a second time in 2014. She claimed that Lythgoe had invited her to his house for a professional dinner meeting, where he allegedly “forced himself on top of [her]” and “attempted to kiss her.”
“Abdul pushed Lythgoe off of her, explaining that she was not interested in his advances and immediately left,” the suit reads, noting Abdul chose not to publicly discuss the alleged incident due to her contracts.
Abdul, who briefly joined the So You Think You Can Dance judging panel in 2014 alongside Lythgoe, claimed in her legal filing that her contracts from both Idol and SYTYCD “prohibited [her] from publicly disclosing sensitive information” about the shows and its business affairs.
During her time on So You Think You Can Dance, Abdul also allegedly witnessed Lythgoe sexually assault one of her assistants without consent. Lythgoe has not publicly addressed the claims.
Abdul filed her lawsuit in Los Angeles 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).