Nigel Lythgoe denies Paula Abdul’s sexual assault allegations

Television producer Nigel Lythgoe has denied allegations made by Paula Abdul in a recent lawsuit that accuses him of sexually assaulting the singer twice while working together on his TV shows.

“To say that I am shocked and saddened by the allegations made against me by Paula Abdul is a wild understatement,” the “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance” executive producer said Sunday in a statement to E! News.

“For more than two decades, Paula and I have interacted as dear — and entirely platonic — friends and colleagues,” he continued. “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.”

Lythgoe went on to state that he plans to “fight this appalling smear with everything I have.”

Representatives for the producer did not immediately respond Tuesday to The Times’ requests for comment.

Abdul’s lawsuit, which was filed Friday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleged that her boss and on-air co-star Lythgoe sexually assaulted her twice during her tenure on his shows. Abdul appeared as a judge on “American Idol” from 2002 to 2009 and on the dance competition “So You Think You Can Dance” from 2015 to 2016.

According to the suit, Lythgoe, 74, first assaulted Abdul, 61, in a hotel elevator in the 2000s while they were on the road filming an early season of “American Idol.” Abdul alleged that one day after regional auditions, the executive producer “shoved her against the wall, then grabbed her genitals and breasts, and began shoving his tongue down her throat” before she ran to her hotel room and reported the incident to her representatives.

Lythgoe allegedly assaulted Abdul again in 2015 when she judged Season 12 of “So You Think You Can Dance.” At the time, Lythgoe, who co-created and executive produced the show, also served on the judges panel alongside Abdul. She alleged that she was invited to what she believed was a professional dinner at Lythgoe’s home, only for Lythgoe to force himself on her and attempt to kiss her as she sat on his couch before she pushed him off and fled.

According to the lawsuit, Abdul feared professional retaliation or blackballing if she spoke out against Lythgoe, who was then president of the television division of “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance” producer 19 Entertainment Inc.

The “Straight Up” and “Opposites Attract” hitmaker also alleged that she witnessed Lythgoe grope her assistant without her consent during filming of “So You Think You Can Dance” in 2015.

She also claimed that her contracts on the shows barred her from disclosing confidential or derogatory information about other judges, hosts or production staff, the lawsuit said. Abdul alleged that Lythgoe, other executives and representatives of the show’s producers had subjected her to “taunts, bullying, humiliation and harassment,” including misleading edits of footage of Abdul that depicted her as “inept.”

The lawsuit names Lythgoe and production companies 19 Entertainment, FremantleMedia North America, American Idol Productions and Dance Nation Productions as defendants. It lists sexual assault/battery, sexual harassment, gender violence and negligence among the allegations.

Abdul’s lawsuit was filed under this year’s Sexual Abuse and Cover Up Accountability Act, which allows limited windows for filing certain civil sexual abuse claims beyond the usual statute of limitations. Other recent high-profile lawsuits filed under the act have levied sexual assault allegations against Jermaine Jackson and former Recording Academy chief Mike Greene. Sean “Diddy” Combs, Antonio “L.A.” Reid and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler have been sued under a similar New York law.