Accusations have emerged against Nigel Lythgoe, a renowned former producer for prominent shows such as ‘American Idol’ and ‘So You Think You Can Dance’. The plaintiff, TV personality Paula Abdul, has alleged she was sexually assaulted by Lythgoe on multiple occasions according to a lawsuit filed recently in Los Angeles.
By the account provided in the lawsuit, the first incident of alleged assault took place during one of the nascent seasons of ‘American Idol’ with another happening in 2014 while both Abdul and Lythgoe were serving as judges on ‘So You Think You Can Dance’. Lythgoe reportedly had a substantial role in the production of ‘American Idol’ during its height in popularity in the 2000s, and his involvement with the series apparently lasted until 2014.
Lythgoe is also distinguished as the producer and co-creator for ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ from 2005 to 2014. The lawsuit delineates points where Lythgoe purportedly transgressed, the earliest of which happened in an elevator at a hotel during the audition phase of one of the initial ‘American Idol’ seasons.
In the suit, details emerge of an alleged altercation where Lythgoe pushed Abdul against a wall, then indecently touched her and forced himself upon her. These claims, according to Abdul, were not initially brought forward due to fears of reprisal from Lythgoe, as he had the authority to terminate her judgeship on the show.
A second alleged assault, as outlined in the lawsuit, occurred in 2014 at Lythgoe’s residence after he invited Abdul over for dinner. The details depict an encounter where Lythgoe purportedly made an unwanted advance towards Abdul, attempting to impose a kiss while claiming their status as a ‘power couple’. Abdul then rejected his advances and immediately exited the premises.
Due to apprehension over Lythgoe’s executive status, Abdul confesses in the lawsuit that these events were not disclosed earlier, out of concern that she would face detrimental repercussions in her career, including being potentially ousted from the industry.
The lawsuit goes further to claim that Abdul saw Lythgoe assault one of her assistants, simply referred to as ‘April’, during filming for ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ in 2015. It’s alleged that Lythgoe approached both women from behind, proceeded to press against the assistant, and inappropriately touch her without consent.
Also mentioned in the suit is a disturbing event where Lythgoe is said to have tormented Abdul over the phone, making jests about his inappropriate conduct. Not only the aforementioned shows are part of the suit, but the production entities associated with them as well, namely American Idol Productions, Dance Nation Productions, 19 Entertainment, and FremantleMedia North America.
Lythgoe allegedly further provoked Abdul with a phone call about celebrating the end of the statute of limitations for his assaults, indicating his comprehension that his actions were not just inappropriate but that he wielded influence sufficient enough to enforce her silence.
According to the lawsuit, Lythgoe even verbally demeaned Abdul in a meeting with executives, aimed at launching ‘American Idol’ in 2001. He is said to have derided the singer by labeling her a ‘has-been’ unlikely to be recognized by the show’s contestants.
Abdul, through this lawsuit, therefore seeks damages from Lythgoe for multiple reasons, inclusive of sexual assault and battery, harassment on the basis of sex, gender violence, and negligence. Lythgoe, on the other hand, vehemently denies these allegations with a statement expressing his surprise and grief over such accusations.
He refutes all claims of assault, characterizing the allegations as baseless and profoundly offending. Furthermore, the veteran producer commits to staunchly counter these disturbing allegations, vowing to use all his resources to combat this smear on his character.
The lawsuit is filed amid a wave of similar sexual abuse allegations being brought against high-profile personalities, courtesy of newly passed legislation in New York and California that has temporarily lifted the statute of limitations tied to such claims. Noteworthy personalities such as Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs, Axl Rose, and Jermaine Jackson are amongst those who have faced accusations in recent months.