Paula Abdul sues ‘American Idol,’ ‘SYTYCD’ producer Nigel Lythgoe over sexual assault claims

Paula Abdul is suing Nigel Lythgoe, claiming the “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance” producer sexually assaulted her while filming the competition shows.

Abdul alleges in the lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Friday and obtained by Page Six, that Lythgoe sexually assaulted her in a hotel elevator while they were traveling for “American Idol” during one of the show’s “initial seasons.”

“Lythgoe shoved Abdul against the wall, then grabbed her genitals and breasts, and began shoving his tongue down her throat,” the court documents state.

“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. Abdul quickly called one of her representatives in tears to inform them of the assault.”

Abdul, 61, claims another incident happened while she was a judge on “So You Think You Can Dance.” She alleges in court documents that Lythgoe, 74, invited her over to his home for dinner and accepted as she believed it was a “professional invitation.”

The two worked together on “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance.” FOX Image Collection via Getty Images

“Toward the end of the evening, 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,’” court documents state. “Abdul pushed Lythgoe off of her, explaining that she was not interested in his advances and immediately left.”

Court documents state that Abdul also allegedly witnessed Lythgoe sexually assault one of her assistants in 2015. While filming the dance competition series, Lythgoe allegedly “pressed himself up” against her assistant and “began to grope her” without consent, according to the lawsuit.

Abdul claims she did not speak up at the time out of fear of retaliation. FOX Image Collection via Getty Images

Abdul further alleges that Lythgoe “verbally insulted and belittled” her in a meeting before she officially signed on to judge “American Idol” in April 2002 and was discriminated against throughout her time working on the show.

She claims she chose not to speak up about any of the allegations at the time over fear of retaliation from her former boss.

“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.

“Lythgoe clearly knew that his assaults of Abdul were not just wrong but that he held the power to keep her silent,” the lawsuit states.

The legendary choreographer – who recently guest judged an episode of “Dancing With the Stars” – alleges Lythgoe “knew and was aware” that his treatment of Abdul was “inappropriate and even criminal.”


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“Indeed at one point Lythgoe called Abdul and taunted her that they should celebrate because it had been ‘seven years and the statute of limitations had run,’” court documents state. “Lythgoe clearly knew that his assaults of Abdul were not just wrong but that he held the power to keep her silent.”

Reps for Lythgoe did not immediately respond to Page Six’s requests for comment. Getty Images

The “Straight Up” singer also lists the production companies for “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance” – American Idol Productions, Dance Nation Productions, 19 Entertainment and Fremantlemedia North America – as defendants, alleging “sexual assault/battery, sexual harassment, gender violence, and negligence” as causes of action.

The lawsuit was filed under California’s Sexual Abuse and Cover-Up Accountability Act, which gives plaintiffs a one-year window to file claims that would otherwise be outside the statute of limitations.

Reps for Abdul and Lythgoe did not immediately respond to Page Six’s requests for comment.