Grammy-award-winning artist and US television star Paula Abdul has accused a producer on the singing contest show American Idol of sexual assault, according to a California lawsuit.
Abdul, whose 1988 album Forever Your Girl was the most successful debut in history at the time, accused Nigel Lythgoe, a producer on Idol and a judge on So You Think You Can Dance, of sexually assaulting her twice, the complaint showed.
Lythgoe, who is English, has denied the accusations, according to media reports.
In the suit, the 61-year-old singer said she was harassed by Lythgoe and other executives on American Idol, where she was a judge from 2002 to 2009.
It alleged she was discriminated against in terms of pay, and that “she was the target of constant taunts, bullying, humiliation, and harassment from several executives, agents, employees” of the show. The most serious accusations are against Lythgoe, 74.
Early in Idol’s run, the lawsuit stated, Abdul and Lythgoe were on the road for the show’s auditions when he attacked her in a hotel elevator, groping her and “shoving his tongue down her throat.”
The second assault came after Abdul agreed to appear as a judge on So You Think You Can Dance in 2015, and went to dinner at Lythgoe’s house, where he allegedly “attempted to kiss her while proclaiming that the two would make an excellent ‘power couple.’”
“For years, Abdul has remained silent about the sexual assaults and harassment she experienced on account of Lythgoe due to fear of speaking out against one of the most well-known producers of television competition shows who could easily break her career as a television personality and of being ostracised and blackballed by an industry that had a pattern of protecting powerful men and silencing survivors of sexual assault and harassment,” the complaint stated.
Originally published in Dawn, January 1st, 2024