Paula Abdul is suing Nigel Lythgoe over claims that the former American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance producer sexually assaulted her while she was filming the competition television shows.
The singer-dancer claims in the lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Friday (Dec. 29) and obtained by Billboard, that Lythgoe sexually assaulted her on two occasions. The first instance allegedly occurred during one of the early seasons of American Idol and the second took place in 2014 when she was in talks to judge So You Think You Can Dance.
Abdul, 61, alleges in the suit that Lythgoe, 74, first sexually assaulted her in an elevator of a hotel where they were both staying while traveling for one of Idol’s “initial seasons.” It does not state a specific year the alleged incident occurred.
“Lythgoe shoved Abdul against the wall, then grabbed her genitals and breasts, and began shoving his tongue down her throat,” according to court documents. “Abdul attempted to push Lythgoe away from her and let him know 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.”
Abdul’s complaint claims that Lythgoe sexually assaulted Abdul again in 2014 when she was approached for a judging position on So You Think You Can Dance. The alleged incident took place during a dinner at his home where the two were supposed to discuss her professional opportunities, according to the lawsuit.
“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,’” the complaint states. “Abdul pushed Lythgoe off of her, explaining that she was not interested in his advances, and immediately left Lythgoe’s home.”
The suit also alleges that Abdul witnessed Lythgoe sexually assault one of her assistants while filming So You Think You Can Dance in 2015. Lythgoe allegedly “pressed himself” against the woman and “began to grope her” without consent, court document states.
The “Straight Up” hitmaker’s suit further claims that Lythgoe taunted her on the phone about his alleged assaults and states that he “clearly knew that his assaults of Abdul were not just wrong but that he held the power to keep her silent.”
In addition to Lythgoe, the shows’ production companies American Idol Productions, Dance Nation Productions, 19 Entertainment and Fremantlemedia North America are also listed as defendants. Abdul is suing the defendants for sexual assault/battery, sexual harassment, gender violence and negligence.
Representatives for Abdul and Lythgoe did not immediately reply to Billboard‘s request for comment at press time.
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