Nigel Lythgoe accused of sexual assault for the third time in new lawsuit

Nigel Lythgoe (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Nigel Lythgoe (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Ex-American Idol producer Nigel Lythgoe has been accused of sexual assault for the third time in less than two months.

The English producer, director and dance competition judge was first accused of sexual assault by former American Idol judge Paula Abdul in papers filed 29 December last year, which he denied.

Days later, two former contestants of All-American Girl, an all-girl competition show that Lythgoe, 74, produced, also accused him of sexual assault/battery.

In a complaint filed Saturday (17 February) in Los Angeles Superior Court, a woman identified as Jane Doe, accused Lythgoe, 74, of “sexual assault and battery, gender violence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress”, according to a copy of the filing on her attorney’s website.

The suit claims that Lythgoe met Doe at a Beverly Hills hotel in 2016. After posing for a photo Lythgoe allegedly invited her to join him and his associates before offering her a ride home.

“What should have been a quick two-minute ride ended up being a ten-to-fifteen minute sexual assault and battery in which plaintiff was trapped in Lythgoe’s vehicle,” the complaint states.

“Lythgoe’s sexual assault and battery of plaintiff left her feeling horribly violated, shocked, guilty, humiliated, and embarrassed. Such mental anguish and emotional distress were severe and lasting to this day,” it adds.

Nigel Lythgoe (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Nigel Lythgoe (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Lythgoe’s representatives did not immediately respond to The Independent’s request for comment.

Lythgoe stepped down as a judge on So You Think You Can Dance after being hit with the second lawsuit in January. He had appeared as a judge on the show since it premiered in 2005, with the latest 18th season set to air on 4 March.

“I have informed the producers of So You Think You Can Dance of my decision to step back from participating in this year’s series,” the producer said.

“I did so with a heavy heart but entirely voluntarily because this great programme has always been about dance and dancers, and that’s where its focus needs to remain. In the meantime, I am dedicating myself to clearing my name and restoring my reputation.”

Sony Pictures Television’s 19 Entertainment, which co-produces So You Think You Can Dance, has opened an investigation into Lythgoe’s alleged actions, Variety reported, citing a source.

After Abdul came forward, Lythgoe said he was “shocked” by the allegations, and denied abusing her in a statement.

Paula Abdul (AP)
Paula Abdul (AP)

She claims that during one of the early seasons of American Idol, the TV executive shoved her against a wall and groped her breasts and genitals, and shoved his tongue down her throat.

Abdul also claims that she saw Lythgoe sexually assault one of her assistants in April 2015. She alleges that his behaviour was common knowledge in the TV industry and that it was even parodied in a 2008 episode of Mad TV.

According to the plaintiffs in the second lawsuit, Jane Doe KG and Jane Doe KN, Lythgoe “walked around the set [of All-American Girl] and dressing rooms and openly swatted and groped plaintiffs’ and other contestants’ buttocks”.

The plaintiffs have accused the producer of sexual assault/battery, sexual harassment, gender violence and intentional infliction of emotional distress for an incident they claim to have occurred in May 2003.

Lythgoe began his entertainment career in the Seventies and Eighties, later producing British TV shows including Blind Date and Gladiators.

He served as a judge on Popstars, earning the nickname “Nasty Nigel” by the tabloid press for his harsh feedback to contestants.

Rape Crisis offers support for those affected by rape and sexual abuse. You can call them on 0808 802 9999 in England and Wales, 0808 801 0302 in Scotland, and 0800 0246 991 in Northern Ireland, or visit their website at If you are in the US, you can call Rainn on 800-656-HOPE (4673)