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Nigel Lythgoe, the producer of “American Idol,” is accused of sexual assault by Paula Abdul

Paula Abdul, a former judge on “American Idol,” has sued Nigel Lythgoe, the head of “So You Think You Can Dance,” for alleged sexual assault.

The ‘Straight Up’ singer alleges that Nigel Lythgoe “verbally insulated and belittled” her on multiple occasions before he “sexually assaulted” her during one of the first seasons of ‘American Idol,’ according to court documents.

According to the singer’s filing, it all started in early 2001 when FOX contacted Paula Abdul’s business manager regarding a judge position on ‘Pop Idol,’ the American version of the British television singing competition set to premiere.

Abdul had just returned from a six-year hiatus owing to injuries she had received in an accident. According to the documents, Abdul was “intrigued by the opportunity” because she needed to make her comeback.

Paula Abdul claims that Nigel Lythgoe, one of the executive producers of the competition show “Pop Idol,” “verbally insulted and belittled” her when she went to meet with the show’s executives and producers.

According to Abdul’s lawsuit, Lythgoe informed her that “the show’s contestants probably would not know her because she was a ‘has been’ celebrity.”

Abdul claims that other executives and producers told her that “she was exactly what they were looking for,” despite Lythgoe’s discriminatory remarks.

However, the singer left the meeting “with grave reservations about appearing on the show and informed her representatives about such concerns.”

Nigel Lythgoe and Paula Abdul
Nigel Lythgoe and Paula Abdul

Ultimately, Abdul and her team chose to ignore Lythgoe’s remarks and take a chance on the show in the hopes that his behavior was a “one-time” occurrence.

Abdul alleges in the new lawsuit, which The Blast was able to obtain, that “Lythgoe sexually assaulted her during one of ‘American Idol”s initial seasons while she was traveling for the show’s regional auditions.”

The documentation goes on, saying this: “Lythgoe and Abdul went into the hotel elevator after the day’s auditions.

Lythgoe pushed Abdul against the wall as soon as they got inside the elevator, and then he grabbed her breasts and genitalia and started forcing his tongue down her throat.

Abdul tried to elbow Lythgoe out of her way. Abdul hurried from the elevator to her hotel room as soon as the doors to the elevator on her floor opened. Abdul informed one of her delegates of the attack by calling them shortly after, crying.” 

Paula says she was raped twice when she was at the “American Idol” producer’s house for dinner.

She claims that while she was sitting on his couch during the dinner, Lythgoe pushed himself on top of her and “attempted to kiss” her, saying they would make a great “power couple.”

As per the statement, Abdul “pushed him off, explaining she was not interested in his advances, and left immediately.”

Once more, she claims that the incident’s reporting was delayed due to potential consequences for her career and employment.

Remarkably, she asserts that she is not alone in having to cope with the conduct. She alleges in the lawsuit that she saw him sexually abuse one of her helpers.

Nevertheless, Paula Abdul’s stint as a judge on “American Idol” was a huge success, drawing viewers for several seasons. Indeed, “viewership and ratings for the show skyrocketed during her tenure on it, which spanned eight seasons from 2002 to 2009, hitting their peak between Seasons 5 and 8. Remarkably, after Abdul left the show, ratings and viewership started to decline almost instantly,” the documents claim.

Abdul quickly realized that Lythgoe’s remarks and attack were not a “one-time” incident, despite what the records purport to say:

“During her time on “American Idol,” Abdul not only faced discrimination in terms of pay and benefits when compared to a male judge and host (making almost pennies for what a male counterpart was making), but Lythgoe and other executives, agents, staff members, and/or representatives of the show’s producers, 19 Entertainment and Fremantle, also regularly taunted, bullied, and harassed her.”

“Show producers often edited or misleadingly displayed footage of Abdul that made her appear to television audiences as if she were inept, which was not true,” Abdul continued in her lawsuit.

The documents also reveal that during her time on the show, she underwent multiple spinal surgeries, which the producers were aware of.

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