Producer Nigel Lythgoe accused of sexual assault by fourth woman

Another woman has accused former “So You Think You Can Dance” and “American Idol” producer Nigel Lythgoe of sexual assault.

The woman, a California resident who is identified as Jane Doe to protect her privacy, alleges that the executive producer forcibly touched her in his car in 2016 after he “insisted” on driving her home. Her attorneys, who posted a statement and copy of the complaint on their website, assert claims of sexual assault and battery, gender violence and intentional infliction of emotional distress stemming from the alleged incident.

The law firm, Johnson & Johnson LLP, is also representing “American Idol” alum Paula Abdul, who accused Lythgoe of sexual assault in late December. Two other women brought suit against Lythgoe in January.

The new complaint, which was reviewed Thursday by The Times but has not yet appeared in Los Angeles Superior Court records, said the woman met Lythgoe at a Beverly Hills hotel bar on Feb. 13, 2016, where she was having a birthday dinner with friends and family. After she took a photo with the producer and struck up a conversation, Lythgoe invited her to have drinks with him and his associates. Later he “insisted on driving” her home, an apartment that was a block away from the hotel, the complaint said.

“Unfortunately, Lythgoe’s intentions were not innocent. Shortly after entering the vehicle, Lythgoe began to grope and kiss Plaintiff. Plaintiff attempted to push Lythgoe off, but he only became more forceful. To make matters worse, Lythgoe’s driver passed Plaintiff’s home and began driving away from Beverley Hills toward the Hollywood Hills. Plaintiff struggled to both keep Lythgoe off her and instruct his driver how to get back to her home, but Lythgoe would not relent. At one point, Lythgoe shoved his hand up Plaintiff’s skirt and penetrated her genitalia.

“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. As a result, Plaintiff suffered tremendous shock, guilt, humiliation, embarrassment, and emotional distress.”

The woman is seeking a variety of undisclosed damages, attorney fees and other legal costs related to the lawsuit.

A representative for Lythgoe did not immediately respond Thursday to The Times’ request for comment.

The complaint is the latest in a string of sexual assault claims made against the 74-year-old British producer.

Abdul, who appeared as a judge on “American Idol” from 2002-09 and on the dance competition “SYTYCD” from 2015-16, alleged in her late December lawsuit that Lythgoe assaulted her twice during her tenures on his shows. She also alleged that she suffered bullying and harassment and gender pay discrimination while serving as a prominent public face of the hit reality programs.

The producer denied Abdul’s allegations, calling them “false” and “deeply offensive to me and to everything I stand for.” He called his relationship with Abdul “entirely platonic,” saying she was a friend and colleague, and he vowed to “fight this appalling smear with everything I have.”

Less than a week after Abdul’s filing, two additional women — identified as former contestants on the short-lived series “AAG,” which is believed to be a reference to Lythgoe’s “All American Girl” — accused the producer of sexual assault. He was identified by the pseudonym John Roe N.L. in that filing.

The women accused Lythgoe of making unwanted sexual advances and forcibly kissing them inside his Los Angeles home during filming of the competition game show in 2003. The plaintiffs also alleged that Lythgoe visited the all-female contestants’ dressing room and “openly swatted and groped” them and other contestants’ buttocks. They alleged that employees, contractors and representatives of the show’s production saw Lythgoe’s alleged behavior and failed to intervene or prevent further possible abuse. The complaint said the behavior “was openly accepted.”

As pressure mounted on companies doing business with Lythgoe, he stepped back from his on-camera and behind-the-scenes roles on “SYTYCD.” In January, he was replaced as a judge by “Dance Moms” alum Jojo Siwa for Season 18, which premieres March 4 on Fox.

The show “will proceed, although without Nigel Lythgoe, to ensure the show remains committed to the contestants, who have worked incredibly hard for the opportunity to compete on our stage,” “SYTYCD’s” production companies — 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions — and Fox said in a joint statement in January.

Before that, Lythgoe told the Hollywood Reporter that the decision to step away from the show was his. “I did so with a heavy heart but entirely voluntarily because this great program has always been about dance and dancers, and that’s where its focus needs to remain,” he said. “In the meantime, I am dedicating myself to clearing my name and restoring my reputation.”

Times staff writers Jen Yamato and Jonah Valdez contributed to this report.

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