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June 24, 2024

Paula Abdul Accuses Nigel Lythgoe of Sexual Assault and Harassment

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Jan 6, 2024

American singer and choreographer Paula Abdul has filed a lawsuit against prominent TV producer Nigel Lythgoe, accusing him of sexual assault, harassment and emotional distress stemming from their time working together on American Idol.

Background on Paula Abdul and Nigel Lythgoe

Paula Abdul first met Nigel Lythgoe in 2002 when she was hired as a judge on the new singing competition show American Idol, which Lythgoe served as executive producer and showrunner for during its first seven seasons.

Abdul was already famous as a singer and choreographer at that time, known for 80s and 90s hits like “Straight Up” and “Opposites Attract”. Lythgoe was a successful TV producer best known for shows like Popstars.

Paula Abdul

  • Born in 1962 in San Fernando, California
  • Choreographer, dancer, singer, TV personality
  • First big break as a choreographer for Janet Jackson
  • Had several #1 hits as a pop singer in late 80s/early 90s
  • Hired as original American Idol judge in 2002

Nigel Lythgoe

  • Born in 1949 in Wallasey, England
  • TV producer and personality
  • Known for shows like Pop Idol, Popstars and So You Think You Can Dance
  • Executive producer of American Idol seasons 1-7
  • Later a recurring judge on So You Think You Can Dance

Sexual Assault and Harassment Allegations

In a lawsuit filed December 30th, 2023, Abdul accuses Lythgoe of sexual assault and harassment during her time working under him as a judge on American Idol.

The lawsuit states that the inappropriate behavior began shortly after she started on the show in 2002 and continued for several years. This included unwelcome kissing and groping, sexual comments about her body, and coercing her to sit on his lap while he became aroused.

Abdul claims that Lythgoe’s status as executive producer made her feel she could not speak out for fear of losing her job. She says the distress led her to become dependent on pain medication and seek therapy.

In addition to her own experiences, the suit says several contestants and crew members on his shows have accused Lythgoe of sexual misconduct and abusive behavior.

Lythgoe has strongly denied all the allegations through his lawyer.

Abdul Quits American Idol

Abdul ended up leaving American Idol in 2009 after eight seasons as a popular judge on the show.

The lawsuit states that the ongoing sexual harassment by Lythgoe was a major factor in her deciding to exit the show. Sources close to Abdul also say the hostile work environment took a major toll on her both physically and emotionally in her later seasons there.

Abdul has mentioned workplace abuse in vague terms over the years when discussing her Idol exit, but did not name Lythgoe specifically until now.

Paula Abdul’s Career After American Idol

Year Show/Project Role
2011 The X-Factor Judge
2012 Live to Dance Judge
2013 So You Think You Can Dance Guest Judge
2022 Superstar Lead Judge

Calls Mount for Lythgoe’s Removal

Shortly after Abdul’s lawsuit became public on December 31st, Lythgoe began facing pressure from within the entertainment industry to step down from current projects.

The executive producer was still involved as a judge with the hit reality dance competition So You Think You Can Dance, which has run annually since 2005.

But after news broke of the disturbing sexual allegations, figures like TV host Cat Deeley and professional dancer Travis Wall spoke out on social media saying Lythgoe should be removed from the show.

Longtime SYTYCD judge and producer Nigel Lythgoe has now exited the series, it was announced January 5th. No official reason was given, but the departure follows the shocking misconduct accusations from Abdul and others.

What Happens Next

Nigel Lythgoe continues to firmly deny any wrongdoing, with his lawyer stating he “looks forward to defending himself.” But the accounts of abusive behavior from Paula Abdul and contestants could damage his reputation and career going forward.

For her part, Paula Abdul is seeking justice and hopes to empower any other victims who may have suffered from sexual crimes. By using her fame to call out misconduct by powerful men like Lythgoe, Abdul aims to create lasting positive change in the entertainment world and beyond.

The lawsuit will likely be a prolonged legal affair, but the court of public opinion is already rendering its judgement on Nigel Lythgoe in the wake of the horrific allegations against him.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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