Paula Abdul Settles Sexual Assault Lawsuit With ‘American Idol,’ Sets Trial With Nigel Lythgoe

Paula Abdul Settles Sexual Assault Suit With American Idol Sets Trial With Nigel Lythgoe 448
Paula Abdul. Chelsea Guglielmino/Getty Images
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Paula Abdul has settled her sexual assault lawsuit against American Idol out of court, but her sexual assault and battery suit against producer Nigel Lythgoe will go to trial next year.

In December 2023, Abdul, 61, filed a suit that accused Lythgoe, 74, and the show’s production companies of sexual assault/battery, sexual harassment, gender violence and negligence. Abdul recently settled her claims against production companies FremantleMedia North America, American Idols Productions, 19 Entertainment and Dance Nation Productions, Deadline reported on Tuesday, April 30. Meanwhile, her claims against Lythgoe will receive a jury trial set to begin in July 2025.

According to court documents, Abdul accused the former American Idol producer of assaulting her twice.

The Grammy winner claimed the first assault occurred in the early 2000s in a hotel elevator. The document alleges: “Lythgoe shoved Abdul against the wall, then grabbed her genitals and breasts, and began shoving his tongue down her throat.”

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Abdul served as a main judge for American Idol during seasons 1 to 8, and also was a guest judge in seasons 9, 12, 15 and 21.

Following the huge success of the show, Simon Fuller, who created Idol, and Lythgoe, developed a new competition show, So You Think You Can Dance. Abdul was a guest judge for season 10, and became a main judge for seasons 12 and 13.

Paula Abdul Settles Sexual Assault Suit With American Idol Sets Trial With Nigel Lythgoe 449
Steve Granitz/WireImage

According to her lawsuit, the second assault occurred during a meeting for the new show at Lythgoe’s home in Los Angeles.

“Toward the end of the evening, Lythgoe forced himself on top of Abdul while she was seated on his couch and attempted to kiss her while proclaiming that the two would make an excellent ‘power couple,’” the complaint states.

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“At one point Lythgoe called Abdul and taunted her that they should celebrate because it had been ‘seven years and the statute of limitations had run,’” the document continued. “Lythgoe clearly knew that his assaults of Abdul were not just wrong but that he held the power to keep her silent.”

Lythgoe denied the charges in a statement to Us Weekly after the suit was initially filed.

“While Paula’s history of erratic behavior is well known, I can’t pretend to understand exactly why she would file a lawsuit that she must know is untrue,” he responded at the time. “But I can promise that I will fight this appalling smear with everything I have.”

In March, his lawyers wrote in a court filing, “Lythgoe will continue to promote the dissemination of truth – which confirms that Abdul is not a victim of sexual assault at the hand of Lythgoe, but it is Lythgoe who has been a victim of Abdul’s appalling lies.”

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Abdul’s legal team responded: “Mr. Lythgoe’s answer to Ms. Abdul’s complaint is classic victim shaming.”

Following Abdul's suit, Lythgoe has been named in three suits filed by anonymous women with similar claims.

In the midst of the allegations, Lythgoe exited So You Think You Can Dance, where he served as a judge and executive producer since the 2005 premiere. He was replaced by JoJo Siwa.