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Paula Abdul accuses ‘American Idol’ exec producer Nigel Lythgoe of sexual assault, harassment

Paula Abdul, left, and Nigel Lythgoe.Getty Images

Paula Abdul, Grammy-winning entertainer and former judge on “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance,” is suing the executive producer of those programs, Nigel Lythgoe, accusing him of sexual assault and harassment along with gender violence and negligence, according to a lawsuit filed Friday.

The complaint, which was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court and obtained by CNN on Saturday, outlines two separate incidents that Abdul alleges occurred in the early 2000s and in 2015, respectively.

According to the complaint, Abdul alleges “Lythgoe shoved Abdul against the wall” of an elevator and proceeded to grope her and kiss her while the pair were traveling for regional auditions for “American Idol” in the first incident.

“Abdul attempted to push Lythgoe away from her and let him know that his behavior was not acceptable,” the complaint reads.

In the second incident, Abdul alleges that Lythgoe “forced himself on top of Abdul while she was seated on his couch and attempted to kiss her” when the entertainer was at a business dinner at Lythgoe’s home in 2015.

She again rejected his attempts, explaining that she “was not interested in his advances,” having believed that the meeting at his house was of a purely professional nature, according to the complaint.

Abdul did not report either incident at the time because she feared professional retaliation, according to her complaint. She also claims to have witnessed Lythgoe assaulting her assistant in a separate incident in 2015.

Lythgoe called allegations “false” and “deeply offensive” in a statement to TMZ.

“To say that I am shocked and saddened by the allegations made against me by Paula Abdul is a wild understatement,” Lythgoe said. “I can promise that I will fight this appalling smear with everything I have.”

Abdul is suing Lythgoe and names 19 Entertainment Inc., FremantleMedia North America Inc., American Idol Productions Inc. and Dance Nation Productions Inc. as co-defendents, accusing them of gender violence, sexual harassment and negligence and of having “ratified and/or authorized Lythgoe’s sexual assault and battery of Abdul” by failing to oversee Lythgoe. She is seeking unspecified punitive damages.

CNN has sought comment from Lythgoe and the companies named in the complaint.

The complaint also states Abdul faced compensatory discrimination while working on “American Idol” “compared to one of the show’s male judges and host” and that she was “the target of constant taunts, bullying, humiliation and harassment.”

As a result of the alleged incidents, Abdul claims she has since suffered “severe emotional distress, emotional anguish, fear, anxiety, humiliation, embarrassment, and other physical and emotional injuries, and damages (economic and noneconomic). The injuries suffered by Abdul are “substantial, continuing and permanent,” her suit states.

“It was clearly a difficult decision to make, but Ms. Abdul knows that she stands both in the shoes and on the shoulders of many other similarly situated survivors, and she is determined to see that justice is done,” Abdul’s lawyer Douglas L. Johnson said in a statement on Saturday.

Abdul’s lawsuit was filed under California’s Sexual Abuse and Cover Up Accountability Act, which allows for claims of “damages suffered as a result of a sexual assault” that occurred outside the statute of limitations to be filed for a period of time.

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