31 December 2023 at 08:36December 31, 2023 at 3:17 pm
Paula Abdul sues Nigel Lythgoe. Image: Cornerstone
Paula Abdul, the 1980s pop star and Grammy Award winner, has sued the producer of the TV talent show “American Idol” for sexual assault. She said in a lawsuit that British man Nigel Lithgow sexually assaulted her twice.
Abdul filed the lawsuit in California court. Lithgow denied the allegations. He is also known in the USA as a judge on the dance competition show “So You Think You Can Dance”.
Abdul, now 61, says in her lawsuit that during her time as a judge on “American Idol” from 2002 to 2009, she was subjected to attacks from Lithgow and other people responsible for the hit show. She was discriminated against in terms of pay and was the target of constant ridicule, humiliation and other forms of bullying as well as “harassment from various responsible persons, agents and employees” on the show.
The alleged incident in the elevator
The most serious allegations made by the musician, best known for songs such as “Cold Hearted” and “Rush Rush,” are directed against Lithgow, who is now 74 years old. In her lawsuit, she accused him of assaulting her in a hotel elevator on her way to the set of “American Idol,” where he groped her and “shoved his tongue down her throat.”
The second attack occurred when Abdul was a judge on “So You Think You Can Dance” in 2015 and a guest at a meal at Lythgoe's home. He “tried to kiss her” and claimed they would make an “excellent power couple,” the suit says.
For years, Abdul did not dare defend himself “against one of the most famous producers of TV competition shows” because Lithgow “could easily have ruined her career as a TV personality” and there was a risk that she would be “shunned by the government.” “The practice of powerful men protecting and silencing survivors of sexual assault and harassment has been common,” the lawsuit continues.
A wave of lawsuits before the law expires
Lithgow told NPR that he was “shocked and saddened” by Abdul's allegations and denied her allegations.
Abdul is one of a number of plaintiffs who filed suit before provisions of California's so-called Sexual Assault Accountability and Cover-Up Act expire on New Year's Eve 2023. The law allows sexual assault victims, whose claims have already run out of statute, to take legal action against their tormentors. As part of the arrangement, a lawsuit was also filed against rap mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs in November. (CDU/AFP)
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