Paula Abdul Sues 'American Idol' Producer for Alleged Sexual Assault

The suit was filed in Los Angeles County on Friday.

Paula Abdul
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Please note, this story will contain details of sexual assault.

Noted dancer, choreographer, and former American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance judge Paula Abdul, is suing the producer of those shows—Nigel Lythgoe—for alleged sexual assault against her and an assistant.

According to TMZ and PEOPLE, who both received documents related to the suit, Abdul is alleging multiple instances of sexual assault over the tenure of her time on both shows, as well as separate incident involving an assistant of hers in 2015.

Comments for all parties have not responded to request for comment.

According to details in the suit, Abdul alleges that Lythgoe first sexually assaulted her "while on the road for the region audition" during an early season of American Idol. Upon entering an elevator, documents say, "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." Abdul claims she called her representatives at the time of the event and informed them of what happened, but she chose not to take action out of fear of professional retribution.

Regardless, Abdul claims she was "discriminated against in terms of compensation and benefits compared to one of the show’s male judges and the host,” and was "the target of constant taunts, bullying, humiliation and harassment" while in Idol.

The second assault against Abdul allegedly took place in 2015 while she was a judge on So You Think You Can Dance. In the documents, it is stated that Lythgoe allegedly "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.'"

Abdul then allegedly "pushed Lythgoe off her, explaining that she was not interested in his advances" before leaving what she had previously assumed was a professional engagement, and therefore why she agreed in the first place.

2015 is also when the alleged assault against Abdul's assistant took place, and that, "one evening, Lythgoe approached Abdul and April from behind, pressed himself up against April and began to grope her. April did not consent."

In another disturbing detail from the court documents, Abdul also claims that Lythgoe later "taunted" her about his assaults against her, calling to say they should celebrate because it had been "7 years and the statute of limitations had run."

Perhaps not ironically, Abdul's suit was filed under the Sexual Abuse and Cover Up Accountability Act, which allows for civil sexual assault suits to be filed even if the statute of limitations had previously expired.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available.

Alicia Lutes
Freelance Writer

Alicia Lutes is a freelance writer, essayist, journalist, humorist, and screenwriter based in Los Angeles. She has written extensively on culture, entertainment, the craft of comedy, and mental health. Her work has been featured in places such as Vulture, Playboy, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, MTV, Cosmopolitan, Rotten Tomatoes, Bustle, Longreads, and more. She was also the creator/former host of the web series Fangirling, and currently fosters every single dog she can.