Paula Abdul has accused former American Idol producer Nigel Lythgoe of sexually assaulting her in the early 2000s when she was a judge on the reality competition show, according to a new lawsuit.
The lawsuit, which was filed on Friday in Los Angeles, also accuses Mr Lythgoe of sexually assaulting the singer and dancer after she left the show and became a judge on his other competition show So You Think You Can Dance.
Before American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance, on which Lythgoe served as a judge for 16 seasons, he was a producer on the British show Pop Idol, which became a global franchise.
The lawsuit alleges the first assault occurred in a hotel elevator while filming auditions for an earlier season of American Idol, which premiered in 2002.
It says she remained silent for years about the alleged assaults out of fear of retaliation.
In a statement, Mr Lythgoe said that he was “shocked and saddened” to hear of the allegations made by Abdul, who he said he considered a “dear” and “entirely platonic” friend.
“I can’t pretend to understand exactly why she would file a lawsuit that she must know is untrue,” he said. “But I can promise that I will fight this appalling smear with everything I have.”
Ms Abdul starred as a judge for the first eight seasons, leaving in 2009. In 2015, she became a judge on So You Think You Can Dance alongside Mr Lythgoe for two seasons.
The lawsuit alleges a further incident happened during a dinner at Mr Lythgoe’s home and accuses him of taunting Ms Abdul years later, saying “they should celebrate” because “the statute of limitations had run.”
The suit was filed before the December 31 deadline of a California law which opened a one-year window for victims involving sexual abuse claims after the statute of limitations has run out.