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Nigel Lythgoe Responds to Paula Abdul’s Sexual Assault Allegations

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Paula Abdul Sues Nigel Lythgoe for Sexual Assault

Nigel Lythgoe is denying Paula Abdul‘s allegations that he sexually assaulted her, which she had made in a recent lawsuit filed against him.

The TV exec, who worked with the singer as an executive producer on American Idol and co-judge of So You Think You Can Dance—a show he co-created, issued a statement to E! News in response to the accusations laid out in her filing, which was submitted to a Los Angeles court Dec. 29.

“To say that I am shocked and saddened by the allegations made against me by Paula Abdul is a wild understatement,” Lythgoe said. “For more than two decades, Paula and I have interacted as dear—and entirely platonic—friends and colleagues. 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 said that he “can’t pretend to understand exactly why she would file a lawsuit that she must know is untrue.” He added, “But I can promise that I will fight this appalling smear with everything I have.”

Abdul, who was a judge on American Idol from its 2002 debut until 2009, and appeared on the judges’ panel on SYTYCD between 2015 and 2016, filed her lawsuit under California’s Sexual Abuse and Cover Up Accountability Act, which allows most civil suits in sexual assault cases to proceed after the statute of limitations has expired. The deadline for filing such cases is Dec. 31.

In her filing, obtained by E! News, Abdul, 61, details two incidents of alleged sexual assault by Lythgoe, 74. She alleges that he groped and kissed her without her consent in a hotel elevator while the two were on the road for one of American Idol‘s regional auditions.

Rodin Eckenroth / Getty Images for Associated Television International / Rodin Eckenroth / Getty Images

She also accuses him of sexually assaulted her again years later, around the time she worked on SYTYCD, this time at his home. Abdul alleges that Lythgoe had invited her to dinner at his house “to discuss other opportunities for the two to work together” but that toward the end of the evening, he forced himself on top of her while she was seated on his couch and “attempted to kiss her while proclaiming that the two would make an excellent ‘power couple.'”

The choreographer says in her filing that after both alleged incidents, she decided not to take action against Lythgoe out of fear of professional retaliation. Her lawsuit states that “in light of the Sexual Abuse and Cover Up Accountability Act, Abdul is no longer willing to remain silent.”

Abdul is suing Lythgoe for sexual assault, sexual harassment, gender violence and negligence and says she has suffered severe emotional distress, emotional anguish, fear, anxiety, humiliation, embarrassment and other physical and emotional injuries and damages from his alleged actions against her.

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