Renowned singer and former American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance judge, Paula Abdul, has recently filed a lawsuit against Nigel Lythgoe, executive producer of both shows, accusing him of multiple instances of sexual assault. The lawsuit, lodged in the Los Angeles County Superior Court on Friday, details two alleged assaults—one during the early seasons of American Idol and another during Abdul’s tenure on So You Think You Can Dance. Abdul also asserts that her assistant was a victim of Lythgoe’s misconduct.
Abdul’s legal action encompasses charges of sexual assault/battery, sexual harassment, gender violence, and negligence. The lawsuit is filed under the Sexual Abuse and Cover Up Accountability Act, allowing civil sexual assault suits even when the statute of limitations has expired.
The defendants named in the lawsuit include Lythgoe, 19 Entertainment Inc., FremantleMedia North America Inc., American Idol Productions Inc., and Dance Nation Productions Inc.
According to the court documents obtained by PEOPLE, the first alleged incident occurred in the early 2000s during the regional audition phase of American Idol. The suit describes Lythgoe assaulting Abdul in an elevator, forcibly grabbing her genitals and breasts and engaging in unwarranted physical contact. Abdul, distraught, reportedly informed her representative but refrained from taking action out of fear of repercussions on her career.
The second incident, as per the lawsuit, transpired in 2015 during Abdul’s time as a judge on So You Think You Can Dance. At a professional dinner at Lythgoe’s residence, Abdul claims he forced himself upon her and attempted to kiss her while making inappropriate comments about becoming a ‘power couple.’ Abdul rejected his advances and promptly left.
The lawsuit also details an alleged assault on Abdul’s assistant, April, during the same period. Lythgoe allegedly approached them from behind, groping April without her consent.
Representatives for Lythgoe, Abdul, 19 Entertainment Inc., and FremantleMedia North America Inc. have not yet responded to requests for comments.
Aside from the assault allegations, Abdul asserts that she faced discrimination in terms of compensation and benefits compared to male counterparts on American Idol. She claims to have endured constant taunts, bullying, humiliation, and harassment during her time on the show.
As the legal proceedings unfold, the public awaits responses from the involved parties, as the entertainment industry grapples with yet another high-profile case highlighting issues of misconduct and abuse of power.