Paula Abdul Slams Producer’s Accusations of ‘Drug-Fueled Erratic Behavior’

Paula Abdul, LA Superior Court

Heavy/Getty Paula Abdul is fighting former "American Idol" producer Nigel Lythgoe in Los Angeles Superior Court

The battle between Paula Abdul and former “American Idol” executive producer Nigel Lythgoe is getting ugly.

On March 5, 2024, Lythgoe lashed out at Abdul in his legal response to the sexual assault lawsuit she filed against him in December, per Deadline, claiming he had been nothing but supportive by getting her hired as a judge on “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance” despite her “drug-fueled erratic behavior.”

“Abdul’s suit can only be explained as a ploy for long-ago lost relevance and fame and/or for unjustified profit,” he wrote in his response, and then tried to prove she is a “fabulist” with a “long history of telling wild stories that are untethered from reality.”

After Abdul’s December filing, two more women filed sexual assault lawsuits against Lythgoe in January, according to Deadline, and a third woman came forward hours after his response to Abdul went public. In light of the allegations, Nigel stepped down from the judging panel of “So You Think You Can Dance” in January, vowing to focus on clearing his name, according to USA Today.

On March 6, Abdul’s lawyers called Lythgoe’s response “classic victim shaming” and released multiple texts he sent to her a decade ago as evidence of his advances toward her, according to People.

Here’s what you need to know:

Nigel Lythgoe Claims Paula Abdul Has a ‘Well-Documented’ History of Drug Use & Lying

Nigel Lythgoe, Paula Abdul

GettyNigel Lythgoe and Paula Abdul at the 2013 amfAR Inspiration Gala in Los Angeles

Abdul, 61, who famously served as one of the original judges on “Idol” from 2002 to 2009, filed a sexual assault lawsuit in December 2023 against Lythgoe and the show’s production companies, 19 Entertainment and FremantleMedia North America. According to court documents obtained by TMZ, Abdul sued for sexual assault and battery, sexual harassment, gender violence, and negligence that occurred during her tenure on “Idol” and when she was a judge on “So You Think You Can Dance” in 2015.

In her lawsuit, Abdul alleged that Lythgoe, 74, first sexually assaulted her during her time on “American Idol,” in a hotel elevator while they were traveling for contestant auditions, according to Rolling Stone.

“Lythgoe shoved Abdul against the wall, then grabbed her genitals and breasts, and began shoving his tongue down her throat,” the lawsuit alleged, per Rolling Stone. “Abdul attempted to push Lythgoe away from her. When the doors to the elevator for her door opened, Abdul ran out of the elevator and to her hotel room. Abdul quickly called one of her representatives in tears to inform them of the assault.”

According to Variety, Abdul also accused Lythgoe of verbal harassment and bullying, and claimed that she was discriminated against and paid less than than male judges Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell on “American Idol.”

Lythgoe’s March 5 response, submitted by his lawyers to the LA Superior Court, says that “Lythgoe did not harass, bully, or sexually abuse Abdul,” per People. His legal team provided screenshots of email exchanges that allegedly occurred between the two over the years, attempting to show a warm relationship between them.

In one,  per People, Abdul expressed that she was “forever grateful” for their friendship and in another, she allegedly thanked Lythgoe for sending flowers and spending time with her on her birthday.

According to Variety, Lythgoe’s response states, “It is unthinkable that Abdul would even tolerate Lythgoe’s physical proximity let alone send him adoring messages and sexually provocative jokes if her allegations were true — which, clearly, they are not.”

In the court documents, according to Deadline, Lythgoe also accused Abdul of a “well-documented” pattern of fabricating or exaggerating stories, and claimed that “Abdul has abused the legal process for her own personal and selfish gains.”

Lythgoe has asked the court to dismiss Abdul’s lawsuit, per Variety.

Paula Abdul’s Lawyers Release Messages Allegedly Showing Nigel Lythgoe’s Advances Toward Her

Nigel Lythgoe, Paula Abdul

GettyPaula Abdul and Nigel Lythgoe at FOX’s post-Emmy party in September 2013.

Abdul’s lead lawyer, Melissa Eubanks, strongly criticized Lythgoe’s response in a March 6 statement provided to People, explaining that Abdul felt she had to stay in Lythgoe’s good graces while working on the TV shows he produced.

“Mr. Lythgoe fails to appreciate that he held a position of power over Ms. Abdul,” she said. “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. It thus is no surprise that Ms. Abdul placated to his ego with positive messaging and seeming adoration. These are the defenses that many women like Ms. Abdul had to adopt to deal with men who abuse their power.”

She went on to say that Lythgoe “cherry-picked” seemingly kind exchanges with Abdul to share with the public, but that others exist with evidence of his sexual advances toward her. Abdul’s lawyers released screenshots of several of those conversations.

According to the New York Post, Lythgoe allegedly wrote to Abdul in 2014, “When you get back to LA will you please make love to me! Slowly and lovingly!”

In another text, the Post reported, he allegedly asked, “Is a small grope of the ass asking too much?”

Shortly after his response was filed, the same law firm that represents Abdul, Johnson & Johnson, filed a fourth lawsuit against Lythgoe on behalf of a woman who claims the producer assaulted her at his home in 2018 during a professional meeting.

As a result of the incident, the lawsuit reads, “Plaintiff has suffered severe emotional and
psychological distress, guilt, humiliation, and embarrassment, all of which have greatly impacted
her professional and personal life.”

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or go to

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