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Paula Abdul Calls Out Nigel Lythgoe For “Classic Victim Shaming” In ‘SYTYCD’ Co-Creator’s Response To Her Sexual Assault Suit

UPDATED, 1:58 PM: Paula Abdul has broken her silence about Nigel Lythgoe’s scolding response of March 5 to her sexual assaults claims against the So You Think You Can Dance co-creator and judge.

“Mr. Lythgoe’s answer to Ms. Abdul’s complaint is classic victim shaming,” a statement today from the Grammy winner’s lawyers reads.

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“These are the defenses that many women like Ms. Abdul had to adopt to deal with men who abuse their power,” the statement adds of texts and tweets Lythgoe peppered throughout his filing earlier this week to show what a good relationship he and Abdul had during some of same periods in which she alleges he assaulted her.

Abdul also shows in the statement that she has texts as well, showing cringe-y communications from American Idol producer Lythgoe – as you can see below:

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. On March 8, 2014, Mr. Lythgoe wrote to Ms. Abdul: “When you get back to LA will you please make love to me! Slowly and lovingly!” When Ms. Abdul failed to respond, Mr. Lythgoe proclaimed: “I’ll take that as a YES then!” On April 10, 2014, he similarly wrote, in response to a message from Ms. Abdul about SYTYCD auditions in Las Vegas: “I’ll come if you promise a big wet kiss! With tongues! Is a small grope of the ass asking too much?” In July 2014, Mr. Lythgoe even acknowledged the inappropriateness of his behavior to Ms. Abdul: “you love me like a relation I love you like a girlfriend. I could easily be your fucking cousin? Ha Ha”. There are several instances of such verbal assaults against Ms. Abdul, which are evidence of the frequent abusive behavior that Ms. Abdul was subjected to during her time on American Idol and SYTYCD.

At the end of 2023, Abdul filed a complaint in Los Angeles Superior Court claiming that her Idol boss and fellow SYTYCD judge attacked her in the once-blockbuster show’s early years and again in 2015. In an official response filed yesterday to have Abdul’s suit dismissed, Lythgoe went on the attack. Pronouncing his innocence, he declared the so-called “well-documented fabulist” Abdul had put forth a filing full of “lies” and “wild and unsubstantiated allegations.”

Similar such allegations are found in claims of sexual assault by four other women who have filed suits against Lythgoe in the past two months, including as recently as Tuesday after the response to Abdul was filed.

Along with Abdul, two of those accusers are represented by the firm of Johnson & Johnson.

PREVIOUSLY, MARCH 5 AM: Nigel Lythgoe called Paula Abdul “erratic” when the former American Idol judge accused him of sexual assault late last year. Today, seeking to have Abdul’s complaint “dismissed in its entirety with prejudice,” the veteran competition show producer made it official with a filing of his own.

“Lythgoe will continue to promote the dissemination of truth – which confirms that Abdul is not a victim of sexual assault at the hand of Lythgoe, but it is Lythgoe who has been a victim of Abdul’s appalling lies,” he declared in a response filed Tuesday in LA Superior Court to the Grammy winner’s allegations.

Facing several other recent claims of sexual assault, the So You Think You Can Dance alum was accused on December 29 by co-star Abdul of an incident in Idol’s early seasons and of attacking her again in 2015 in a meeting over Season 12 of SYTYCD. In her jury trial seeking complaint, Abdul also alleged Lythgoe later cruelly taunted her that the statute of limitations had run out on one of the assaults. Additionally, Abdul says she saw Lythgoe assault one of his assistants at a Las Vegas Idol filming.

Read Nigel Lythgoe’s court filed response to Paula Abdul’s sexual assault allegations here

In a filing of his own, full of supposed fawning texts from Abdul to Lythgoe, the producer points the finger at Abdul’s mental health, modern morals and boosting ticket sales as the real root causes of her literally and figurative complaint:

In light of the undisputed facts summarized above that show how Abdul really felt about Lythgoe during and after the time she now alleges abuse occurred, Abdul’s wild and unsubstantiated allegations stretch credulity. After all, it was Lythgoe who fought for Abdul to be included in projects such as American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance, despite the industry’s hesitation to work with Abdul, in part due to the reputation she developed because of her drug-fueled erratic behavior. Based on the above, Abdul’s suit can only be explained as a ploy for long-ago lost relevance and fame and/or for unjustified profit ahead of her announced “Magic Summer” 2024 tour.

Unfortunately for Lythgoe, today’s climate has turned the statutory presumption of innocence until proven guilty on its head. In a matter of minutes, Abdul’s false allegations had a life-changing impact on Lythgoe. With little-to-no regard for the truth, without a fair trial, and without Lythgoe having an opportunity to tell his side of the story, and prove the falsity of hers, his life, the lives of his loved ones, and his reputation suffered substantial damage.

What’s worse, Abdul’s tactical campaign of deception through the telling of grotesque and defaming falsehoods was strategically designed to weaponize the climate against Lythgoe. With fabricated allegations dating back over 20 years, while standing on the shoulders of those the system was created to protect, Abdul has abused the legal process for her own personal and selfish gains. This, too, is intolerable.

“Abdul’s lies are underscored by her conduct and statements during and after the time she alleges abuse occurred,” the filing from the firm of Elkins Kalt Weintraub Reuben Gartside LLP adds. Oddly referencing Abdul’s father going into the ICU, the performer “volunteering for Avon’s Brest Cancer Foundation, and pretty generic PR tweets (“what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”) about SYTYCD, the material in Lythgoe’s response calls Abdul’s claims “lies.”

He actually says the admittedly sometimes kooky performer 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.”

Plane crashes seem to be one such fictional misfortune in Lythgoe’s view.

During her time on American Idol, Abdul appeared on a television show and revealed for the first time that, in 1992, she had survived a plane crash. Of this crash, there is no record whatsoever. Supposed details about this alleged crash have changed countless times over the years, but, in every instance, Abdul’s representations about that supposed plane crash have been implausible, to say the least.

To begin, there are no records whatsoever of the supposed plane crash. In one interview Abdul explained that she was able to keep the story under wraps with NDAs and because “there was not internet at the time.” In another interview she explained that the time of the crash there were “no computers.”

It is, of course, highly implausible that there would be no record of a plane crash in the middle of a corn field with two major newly wed celebrities onboard (Abdul and her now ex-husband Emilio Estevez), other bloodied passengers, and an unconscious pilot, as Abdul claimed was the case. All instrumentation-equipped aircrafts are mandated to file a flight plan that includes time of takeoff and landing and to have a flight path approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Flights are tracked by FAA radar. Any flight disappearance from FAA radar triggers a search and rescue response. More plainly, when a flight is late or off course, Air Traffic Control uses radio communication to ask the pilot for an explanation and responds accordingly, including with search and rescue and mandatory incident/accident reporting by the FAA to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The FAA reports all incidents and accidents to the NTSB. The fact that none of that required reporting and records exist is proof that Abdul simply made up the story about the crash.

Abdul’s Johnson & Johnson lawyers had “no comment” today on Lythgoe’s response to their client’s suit. Now the subject of three sexual assault claims, including Abdul’s, SYTYCD co-creator, lead judge and EP Lythgoe exited the Fox dance competition series in January

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