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Lythgoe calls Abdul lawsuit 'worst form of character assassination' as another accuser surfaces

LEFT: Paula Abdul arrives at the 57th Annual CMA Awards on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023, at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn. (Evan Agostini/Invision/Associated Press) RIGHT: Nigel Lythgoe arrives at the 2018 BAFTA Los Angeles Britannia Awards at the Beverly Hilton on Friday, Oct. 26, 2018 in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/Associated Press
"American Idol" and "So You Think You Can Dance" producer Nigel Lythgoe has responded to Paula Abdul's sexual assault lawsuit as another woman made allegations against him. (Associated Press)

Nigel Lythgoe has been hit with another sexual assault lawsuit just as he filed his official response denying Paula Abdul's bombshell allegations made in her December case.

The latest lawsuit — filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court by the same attorneys representing the "Opposites Attract" singer and another Lythgoe accuser in a pending lawsuit — alleges that the embattled "So You Think You Can Dance" and "American Idol" producer sexually assaulted a longtime professional colleague at his home in Bel-Air during a business meeting in 2018.

Read more: Paula Abdul sues 'American Idol,' 'SYTYCD' producer Nigel Lythgoe over alleged sexual assault

The redacted complaint, posted on the website of the law firm Johnson & Johnson LLP, accuses the 74-year-old producer of sexual assault and battery, gender violence, sexual harassment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The accuser, identified anonymously as Jane Doe, alleges that Lythgoe "forced Jane Doe against an exterior wall of the property and then [started] licking her neck, touching her genitalia, and [groping] her all over."

"Jane Doe did not consent to this attack and left Mr. Lythgoe's residence in such a state of shock that she could not drive herself home for nearly thirty minutes," the law firm said.

The plaintiff, who brings Lythgoe's total number of accusers to five thus far, is seeking several unspecified damages in the case and joins a growing list of women alleging misconduct by Lythgoe.

Representatives for Lythgoe did not comment on the 2018 allegations when reached Wednesday by The Times. However, they have previously denied Abdul's claims, and those made by three other women who brought suits against Lythgoe. (Two former contestants from a short-lived series came forward in January and another woman brought allegations from 2016 in February.)

Read more: Nigel Lythgoe denies Paula Abdul's 'deeply offensive' claims in sexual assault lawsuit

Meanwhile, Lythgoe's attorney, Marina Z. Beck, on Tuesday filed the producer's official response to Abdul's lawsuit, which accused him of sexually assaulting Abdul twice during her time on his shows. The Grammy-winning former "Idol" and "So You Think You Can Dance" judge also alleged that she suffered bullying and harassment and gender pay discrimination while serving as a prominent public face of the hit reality programs.

"Sexual assault, sexual battery, sexual harassment, and gender violence are despicable, intolerable, and life-changing. Those legally responsible for such abuse should be held accountable," according to Lythgoe's response, which was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court and obtained Wednesday by The Times.

"False accusations of sexual assault, sexual battery, sexual harassment, and gender violence are also despicable, intolerable, and life-changing. Abdul's accusations against Lythgoe are false, despicable, intolerable, and life-changing. These allegations are the worst form of character assassination on Lythgoe," his attorneys said.

His attorney called Abdul a "well-documented fabulist," alleging that her accusations about Lythgoe "are pure fiction" being leveraged "as a ploy for long-ago lost relevance and fame and/or for unjustified profit ahead of her announced 'Magic Summer' 2024 tour."

"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. 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," the response said.

Read more: Nigel Lythgoe accused of sexual assault by two additional women after Paula Abdul's lawsuit

In January, Fox dropped Lythgoe from “So You Think You Can Dance” ahead of the dance competition's 18th season and replaced him with "Dance Moms" alum Jojo Siwa.

Beck described Lythgoe and Abdul as longtime friends who spent time with each other's families and frequented events together while collaborating on projects. Citing Abdul's "positive feelings" toward Lythgoe, the attorneys included copies of "adoring messages and comments" made in text messages and social media posts that "underscore the frivolousness and falsity of her suit."

"It is unthinkable that Abdul would even tolerate Lythgoe's physical proximity let alone send him adoring messages and sexually provocative jokes if her allegations were true — which, clearly, they are not," the response said.

Additionally, the attorney argued that the accusations made in Abdul's complaint "lack specificity as to when, where and how any alleged abuse occurred and as to who received notice to it" and that they "stretch credulity." Beck argues that Lythgoe championed and fought for Abdul to be included in "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."

Read more: Producer Nigel Lythgoe accused of sexual assault by fourth woman

Beck argues that Abdul fails to state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action against Lythgoe, that her causes of action are barred by the statute of limitations and cannot be revived and that her claims are barred under the equitably Doctrine of Laches (meaning that she cannot raise her claim due to an unreasonable delay in pursuing it), among several other legal defenses.

Lythgoe is asking that Abdul "takes nothing" by way of her complaint, that it be dismissed in its entirety with prejudice and that Lythgoe recovers his legal fees, as well as further relief the court "deems just and proper."

A spokesperson for Abdul did not immediately respond Wednesday to The Times' request for comment.

As previously reported, Abdul's lawsuit was filed under California’s Sexual Abuse and Cover Up Accountability Act, which allows survivors of sexual assault to sue beyond the usual statute of limitations.

Johnson & Johnson LLP, the law firm representing Abdul and the women who alleged abuse in 2016 and 2018, said Wednesday that Lythgoe's response to Abdul's complaint "is classic victim shaming."

"Mr. Lythgoe fails to appreciate that he held a position of power over Ms. Abdul," the filing attorney Melissa Eubanks said in a statement to The Times. "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."

Eubanks accused Lythgoe's filing of cherry-picking from years of messages with Abdul to try to discredit her claims.

"[W]hat his selections fail to show are the numerous instances of overt sexual harassment he forced Ms. Abdul to tolerate," the statement said, citing three alleged exchanges from 2014 that were sexual and that Eubanks described as "verbal assaults" to Abdul.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.