American Idol’s Paula Abdul sues Nigel Lythgoe over alleged sexual assault

Singer and dancer’s lawsuit claims multiple instances of assault by British television executive while they worked on American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance

American singer and dancer Paula Abdul is suing British television executive heavyweight Nigel Lythgoe over alleged sexual assault, according to US media.

Ms Abdul’s lawsuit claims multiple instances of assault while the pair worked together on American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance.

Mr Lythgoe was an executive producer of the singing talent show and a co-judge on the dancing programme.

Neither Ms Abdul nor Mr Lythgoe have publicly commented on the case.


The BBC has contacted Mr Lythgoe’s representatives for a response.

Ms Abdul alleges the first instance of assault occurred during “one of the first seasons” of American Idol in the early 2000s, US media reports.

The lawsuit claims Mr Lythgoe assaulted her in an elevator while on the road during regional auditions for the popular talent programme.

She was able to escape from her boss when the doors opened and immediately informed her representatives from her hotel room, the lawsuit reportedly says.

The next occurred over a decade later, Ms Abdul claims, during what documents say she thought was a professional meeting at his home in Los Angeles.

She claims he forced himself on her, and told her they would make an “excellent power couple”, according to reports, to which she responded by pushing him off and explaining that she was not interested in his advances.

That same year, Ms Abdul claims she witnessed Mr Lythgoe assault one of his assistants during the filming of So You Think You Can Dance in Las Vegas.

The lawsuit also claims Mr Lythgoe “taunted” her by calling her and saying the pair should celebrate because it had been “seven years and the statute of limitations had run”.

According to US media, the court filing states that Ms Abdul has remained silent for years 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 well as professional contracts that “prohibited” her disclosing “anything that might be deemed confidential business information” or “derogatory”.

Ms Abdul’s lawsuit has been filed under California’s Sexual Abuse and Cover Up Accountability Act, which came into effect a year ago and temporarily lifts the statute of limitations in sexual assault cases.

Until January 2026, survivors of sexual assault can file a civil claim in the state over crimes that occurred on or after January 1st, 2009.

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