Paula Abdul is accusing former “American Idol” executive producer Nigel Lythgoe of “multiple sexual assaults” and harassment while she was a judge on the program and “So You Think You Can Dance.”
According to papers filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Abdul claims she had a strained relationship with “American Idol” producers throughout her time on the show, contending she was paid less than the male judges and subjected to taunts and bullying by show executives and employees.
“During one of `American Idol’s’ initial seasons, while on the road for the show’s regional auditions, Lythgoe sexually assaulted Abdul,” according to the court papers. “One evening, following the day’s auditions, Lythgoe and Abdul entered the elevator of the hotel where they were staying. Upon entering the elevator, Lythgoe shoved Abdul against the wall, then grabbed her genitals and breasts and began shoving his tongue down her throat.
“Abdul attempted to push Lythgoe away from her and let him know that his behavior was not acceptable. When the doors to the elevator for her floor opened, Abdul ran out of the elevator to her hotel room.”
Representatives for Lythgoe, 74, could not be reached late Friday for comment.
According to the court papers, Abdul, now 61, immediately contacted her representatives and told them what had occurred, but she decided “not to take action for fear that Lythgoe would have her fired” from the show.
The court documents also contend Abdul signed a contract in 2015 to appear as a judge on another Lythgoe production, “So You Think You Can Dance.” According to the suit, during that time, Abdul accepted what she believed was a professional invitation to attend dinner at Lythgoe’s home to discuss other career opportunities.
“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,”‘ according to the court documents. “Abdul pushed Lythgoe off of her, explaining that she was not interested in his advances, and immediately left Lythgoe’s home.”
Again fearing retaliation, she did not speak out about the incident, according to the court papers. Abdul also contends she witnessed Lythgoe physically grope one of her female assistants.
According to the court papers, Abdul 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 a television personality.” However, she is “no longer willing to remain silent.”
The suit, which seeks unspecified damages, alleges sexual assault/battery, sexual harassment, gender violence and negligence.
In addition to Lythgoe, the suit also names 19 Entertainment Inc., Fremantle North America, American Idol Productions and Dance Nation Productions.