Paula Abdul’s Sexual Assault Lawsuit Against Nigel Lythgoe Explained

Photo by: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images
Photo by: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images
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American Idol brought Paula Abdul and Nigel Lythgoe together, but now, these two are at great odds. You see, Paula’s currently suing Nigel for sexual assault, a claim that he’s vehemently denying. As their back and forth continues through their filing of motions, things are getting messy rather quickly. To help lay it all out there, here’s an explainer of Paula’s lawsuit and Nigel’s rebuttals, with a spot of tea (and a few 80s lyrics) served on the side.

Paula is suing Nigel for sexual assault

In Paula’s lawsuit, filed in December 2023, Nigel isn’t the only defendant. She’s also suing several production companies, as Paula claims that the higher-ups brought her nothing but “constant taunts, bullying, humiliation, and harassment.” However, the report goes on to state that “The impetus of much of the harassment lobbied against Abdul was Lythgoe.”

According to Paula, there are two separate occasions to speak on. Her first claimed incident occurred during the early seasons of American Idol. “One evening, following the day’s auditions, Lythgoe and Abdul entered the elevator of the hotel where they were staying. Upon entering the elevator, Lythgoe shoved Abdul against the wall, then grabbed her genitals and breasts, and began shoving his tongue down her throat.”

After informing one of the show’s representatives, Paula “decided not to take action for fear that Lythgoe would have her fired.” But then, according to Paula’s lawsuit, it happened again. Around 2014, Paula entered into a contract to be a judge on So You Think You Can Dance. Due to this, Paula claimed that Nigel invited her over to discuss other business opportunities, and since Paula assumed it would be strictly professional, she agreed.

This is when Paula’s alleged second assault occurred, as the docket reads “Toward the end of the evening, however, 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.” Abdul pushed Lythgoe off of her, explaining that she was not interested in his advances, and immediately left Lythgoe’s home. As with the earlier incident, Abdul feared she would be retaliated against or blackballed if she spoke out about the incident.”

Nigel hit back at Paula, calling her “erratic”

Enter in Nigel, not feeling Paula’s “cold-hearted snake” claims. Therefore, he turned to TMZ to help dispel her accusations. “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.”

On Paula’s claims, Nigel went on to say that “not only are they false, they are deeply offensive to me and to everything I stand for. 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. But I can promise that I will fight this appalling smear with everything I have.”

All American Girl contestants also accused Nigel of wrongdoing

Not me, singing in a British male voice, “I take 2 steps forward, I take 2 steps back.” Basically, Nigel’s now facing a second lawsuit. Two female contestants on his long-ago competition series, All American Girl, are newly gunning for Nigel.

Roughly 20 years ago, at a wrap party, Nigel asked the first plaintiff to accompany him back to the studio. Not wanting her friend to go alone, the second plaintiff joined. However, instead of the studio, Nigel drove them to his house. Once inside, their claims of sexual assault arose, as they stated Nigel tried to forcefully kiss them against their will.

Nigel is denying these additional accusations as well.

Paula provides alleged receipts of sexual harassment by Nigel

Paula’s next single needs to be a remix of “Receipts, proof, timelines, screenshots.” I’m sure the ladies on Real Housewives of Salt Lake City would be open to making a cameo in her video. I mean, what else are they doing rn, amiright? Coming in hot with her own receipts in hand, Paula’s meeting Nigel’s denials with a hard nope.

On Nigel’s deflections, he first called Paula erratic. Then, he produced his receipts, which were copies of communications between the pair. Now, Paula’s releasing her own saved messages, and they aren’t pretty.

In one text message from 2014, Nigel allegedly asked Paula, “When you get back to LA will you please make love to me! Slowly and lovingly!” BRB, vom time. Ok, I’m back, but, after Paula refused to respond, Nigel allegedly texted again, saying “I’ll take that as a YES then!”

In yet another alleged text, Nigel and Paula were discussing the SYTYCD auditions that would be taking place in Vegas. According to Paula’s receipts, Nigel wrote “I’ll come if you promise a big wet kiss! With tongues! Is a small grope of the ass asking too much?”

Insert Phaedra Parks demanding “Fix it right now, Lord.”


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