Nigel Lythgoe, the longtime producer of American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance, is speaking against the serious accusations of sexual assault made against him by singer and former Idol judge Paula Abdul.
Abdul filed the lawsuit against Lythgoe in the Los Angeles County Superior Court on Friday under the Sexual Abuse and Cover Up Accountability Act, which protects litigation filed after statute of limitations has expired. According to court documents, Abdul, 61, accuses Lythgoe, 74, of physically abusing her while she was serving as a judge on Idol. Abdul alleges in the lawsuit that Lythgoe assaulted her once during the early seasons of Idol in the 2000s and another time in 2015 while she worked on SYTYCD.
Lythgoe issued a statement in response to the accusations laid out in Abdul’s filing, writing: “To say that I am shocked and saddened by the allegations made against me by Paula Abdul is a wild understatement. For more than two decades, Paula and I have interacted as dear—and entirely platonic—friends and colleagues. Yesterday, however, out of the blue, I learned of these claims in the press and I want to be clear: not only are they false, they are deeply offensive to me and to everything I stand for. I can’t pretend to understand exactly why she would file a lawsuit that she must know is untrue. But I can promise that I will fight this appalling smear with everything I have.”
Abdul said in her filing that after both alleged incidents, she decided not to take action against Lythgoe out of fear of professional retaliation, but that “in light of the Sexual Abuse and Cover Up Accountability Act, Abdul is no longer willing to remain silent.” Abdul is suing Lythgoe for sexual assault, sexual harassment, gender violence and negligence and says she has suffered severe emotional distress, emotional anguish, fear, anxiety, humiliation, embarrassment and other physical and emotional injuries and damages from his alleged actions against her.
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