Paula Abdul Fires Back at Nigel Lythgoe, Accuses Him of ‘Classic Victim Shaming’

Breaking Silence

“These are the defenses that many women like Ms. Abdul had to adopt to deal with men who abuse their power,” reps for Abdul stated

A day after Nigel Lythgoe called Paula Abdul a “fabulist” in response to her sexual assault complaint against him, the former American Idol judge accused him of “classic victim shaming.”

“Mr. Lythgoe’s answer to Ms. Abdul’s complaint is classic victim shaming,” read a statement from Abdul’s lawyers sent to Rolling Stone. “Mr. Lythgoe fails to appreciate that he held a position of power over Ms. Abdul. 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.”

Back in December, Abdul sued the former American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance producer and the show’s production companies, alleging that Lythgoe sexually assaulted her multiple times while she was hosting the shows. Lythgoe denied her allegations at the time, calling them an “appalling smear.”

In a 22-page answer to Abdul’s lawsuit filed Tuesday, Lythgoe called her accusations “false, despicable, intolerable, and life-changing.” He also included excerpts from purported personal emails dating back to 2014 and 2015 in which Abdul allegedly expressed warm feelings toward him and called him “sweetheart.”


Reps for Abdul addressed Lythgoe’s claims in Wednesday’s statement: “While Mr. Lythgoe’s answer cherry-picks from years of messages with Ms. Abdul to try to discredit her claims, what his selections fail to show are the numerous instances of overt sexual harassment he forced Ms. Abdul to tolerate.” The statement outlined instances of alleged explicit messages from the producer, claiming that on March 8, 2014 he wrote to Abdul, “When you get back to LA will you please make love to me! Slowly and lovingly!” and that when she failed to respond, he allegedly declared, “I’ll take that as a YES then!’”

On the same day the embattled TV producer claimed Abdul’s allegations were “pure fiction,” Lythgoe was hit with another lawsuit on Tuesday — this time from a Jane Doe accuser alleging he sexually battered her at his home in 2018. This is in addition to a lawsuit filed in January from two Jane Does who claimed he forced himself on them while they were contestants on his 2003 reality game show All American Girl.