Nigel Lythgoe denies Paula Abdul’s sexual assault claims in legal response

TV producer Nigel Lythgoe is denying accusations of sexual assault and harassment levied against him by former American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance judge Paula Abdul.

His denial came in a legal response filed Tuesday and obtained by CNN.

Lythgoe called the allegations made in Abdul’s legal complaint, filed in December, “false, despicable, intolerable, and life-changing,” according to his response, which was filed with the Los Angeles County Superior Court.

“Abdul is 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,” the filing read.

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Excerpts of private emails Abdul allegedly sent Lythgoe and posts made on social media made by her that make reference to him are also cited in the filing.

Lythgoe’s response characterised these as “adoring messages and comments” that express “positive feelings toward Lythgoe” during and after the period of time Abdul “alleges the abuse occurred.”

A representative for Lythgoe did not have further comment on the filing.

“Mr. Lythgoe’s answer to Ms. Abdul’s complaint is classic victim shaming. Mr. Lythgoe fails to appreciate that he held a position of power over Ms. Abdul,” a statement from an attorney for Abdul on Wednesday read in part.

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Paula Abdul and Nigel Lythgoe

“He was a producer on American Idol and SYTYCD and she was the talent. He held the cards to her career in his hand and he knew it.”

In December, Abdul filed a suit against Lythgoe accusing him of sexual assault and harassment along with gender violence and negligence.

The complaint, which was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court and obtained by CNN at the time, outlined two separate incidents that Abdul alleges occurred in the early 2000s and in 2015, respectively.

Lythgoe called allegations “false” and “deeply offensive” in a statement to TMZ at the time.

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LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 01: Nigel Lythgoe attends George Lopez Foundation's 15th annual celebrity golf tournament pre-party at Baltaire Restaurant on May 01, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)

In January, he announced that he was voluntarily stepping away from his duties as a producer on “So You Think You Can Dance.”

“I am dedicating myself to clearing my name and restoring my reputation,” he said in a statement to CNN following news of his departure.

Abdul also named 19 Entertainment Inc., FremantleMedia North America Inc., American Idol Productions Inc. and Dance Nation Productions Inc. as co-defendents.

CNN’s request for comment from the companies listed in Abdul’s complaint went unreturned at the time.

She is seeking unspecified punitive damages.

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LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 06: Paula Abdul attends the World Premiere of Warner Bros.' "The Color Purple" at Academy Museum of Motion Pictures on December 06, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)

Abdul’s lawsuit was filed under California’s Sexual Abuse and Cover Up Accountability Act, which allows for claims of “damages suffered as a result of a sexual assault” that occurred outside the statute of limitations to be filed for a period of time.

The Grammy-winner served as a judge on American Idol for nine seasons beginning in its first season and as a judge on So You Think You Can Dance for two seasons.

So You Think You Can Dance has aired 17 seasons on US network FOX since 2005. Lythgoe is co-creator of the franchise and has served as an executive producer on both the US and UK versions. He served as a judge for 16 seasons.