Paula Abdul and Nigel Lythgoe
Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images

Paula Abdul Suing American Idol Exec ‘Nasty’ Nigel Lythgoe for Sexual Assault; He Denies Her Claims

Singer and dancer Paula Abdul had quite a run on reality shows. She was one of the original American Idol judges. She left the judges table after Season 8 of the show. Paula later joined the judging panel of So You Think You Can Dance. Her fellow judges were Nigel Lythgoe and Jason Derulo. She was even a guest judge on Season 32 of Dancing with the Stars.

But Paula’s name is in the press this week for a more distressing reason. She has accused Nigel, who was an executive producer of both American Idol and SYTYCD, of sexual assault.

For his part, Nigel denies the claims. TMZ has all the details.

Paula Abdul is suing Nigel Lythgoe for sexually assaulting her

Paula Abdul on Dancing with the Stars
(Disney/Eric McCandless)

Paula filed the lawsuit on Friday, December 29, 2023, in Los Angeles. TMZ obtained the court documents. In the filing, Paula alleged that the first sexual assault occurred during “one of Idol’s initial seasons.” At the time, Paula and Nigel were traveling for regional auditions.

In the documents, Paula stated that she and Nigel were alone in an elevator at their hotel. Nigel allegedly shoved her against the wall and touched her genitals and breasts. He also tried to kiss her with his tongue. The singer reportedly attempted to shove him, and as soon as the elevator doors opened, she ran to her hotel room. Paula called one of her representatives to report the assault. But she was worried that she would be fired if she spoke out.

According to the lawsuit, Paula claimed that the second alleged assault took place after she signed a contract to be a judge on SYTYCD in 2015. Paula accepted an invitation to go to Nigel’s home to talk about work-related issues. At the end of the night, Nigel allegedly forced himself on top of her while she was seated on a couch. He told her that they could be an “excellent power couple” and attempted to kiss her. She reportedly pushed him away and left after she expressed that she was not interested in him.

Paula felt that she was discriminated against regarding her compensation

Paula Abdul with the Dancing with the Stars judges
(Disney/Eric McCandless)

In 2015, Paula claimed that she witnessed Nigel grope one of Paula’s assistants. WOW. This makes me feel ill. She also said that Nigel called her and “taunted” her. He reportedly told her that they should celebrate “seven years and the statute of limitations had run.” Paula also alleged that she was discriminated against and harassed regarding her pay while working on American Idol.

Paul is suing Nigel, FremantleMedia North America, and 19 Entertainment for sexual harassment, sexual assault and battery, negligence, and gender violence. Paula’s decision to come forward is because of California’s Sexual Abuse and Cover-Up Accountability Act. This act gives plaintiffs longer to file claims that would have been blocked by the statute of limitations running out.

Nigel Lythgoe responded to Paula’s lawsuit

Meanwhile, Nigel responded to Paula’s claims. Nigel told TMZ, “To say that I am shocked and saddened by the allegations made against me by Paula Abdul is a wild understatement. For more than two decades, Paula and I have interacted as dear — and entirely platonic — friends and colleagues.”

Nigel 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 added, “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.”

We will keep a close eye on this developing situation.