Paula Abdul, Idol Settle Sex Assault Case

She's to face alleged attacker Nigel Lythgoe at a trial set for next year
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 1, 2024 8:31 AM CDT
Paula Abdul, Idol Settle Sex Assault Case
Paula Abdul arrives at the 57th Annual CMA Awards on Nov. 8, 2023, at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn.   (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

Paula Abdul has tentatively settled her sexual assault and harassment claims with the production companies behind American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance—but not with alleged attacker Nigel Lythgoe, whom she is to face at trial. Abdul sued in December, alleging producer Lythgoe groped her in an elevator during her early days on Idol and, years later, forced himself on her at his home while she was appearing on SYTYCD. "The parties went to mediation, and the corporate defendants settled out," an Abdul attorney told a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge on Tuesday, adding 74-year-old Lythgoe, an Idol producer and SYTYCD judge, is "the one remaining defendant left in the case," per Rolling Stone. The judge set a trial date for July 28, 2025.

Lythgoe denies the accusations. In an April 15 court filing, his lawyer said Abdul had "concocted purely fictional allegations ... that amount to an unjustified and baseless character assassination." But four more women have come forward with similar claims against Lythgoe. A May 15 hearing will address sexual assault allegations brought by two women who appeared on Lythgoe's All American Girl game show in 2003. A case management conference set for June 17 will address claims that Lythgoe assaulted another woman in a vehicle in 2016. And a July 8 case management conference will hear claims from a woman who says Lythgoe forced himself on her at his home in 2018, per Rolling Stone. Lythgoe's lawyers deny the incidents occurred.

They also accuse Abdul of making things up. In court documents, they describe her as "a well-documented fabulist, with a long history of telling wild stories that are untethered from reality and are primarily designed to attract attention and make Abdul appear to be the victim of dreadful misfortune." They also provided emails in which Abdul described Lythgoe as a friend whom she loved, per USA Today. Abdul's lawyers responded that Abdul had to adopt such defenses "to deal with men who abuse their power." Abdul's lawyers didn't reveal the terms of her agreement with FremantleMedia, American Idol Productions, 19 Entertainment, and Dance Nation Productions, though Abdul is said to be "satisfied," per Deadline. (More Paula Abdul stories.)

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