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Nigel Lythgoe Responds to 'American Idol' Racism Accusation

January 26, 2013 (5:48 am) GMT
Nine former contestants have submitted a letter to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to ask for permission to sue the veteran reality show.

"" is hit with racism accusation. Nine former contestants of the show from previous seasons are banding together, claiming the show exploited their criminal past and used it to boost the reality series' ratings.

NY attorney James H. Freeman has submitted a letter to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of the nine contestants, to ask for permission to sue "Idol" and FOX. "As of now it is not a lawsuit; it is just a request to the federal government that they investigate," the lawyer explains.

The disgruntled contestants are Corey Clark (season 2), Jaered Andrews (season 2), Donnie Williams (season 3), Terrell Brittenum (season 5), Derrell Brittenum (season 5), Thomas Daniels (season 6), Akron Watson (season 6), Ju'Not Joyner (season 8) and Chris Golightly (season 9).

In his letter, Freeman points out that the FOX reality series had only publicly disqualified black contestants. He conducted an investigation into the show after noticing something suspicious about "Idol" when Jermaine Jones was booted off on March 15, 2012.

Accusing the show of being "cruel and inhumane," he also alleges the popular talent show of using his clients' criminal records to paint them as "violent criminals, liars and sexual deviants."

Defending the show against the accusation, Nigel Lythgoe tells TMZ, "We treat everybody the same ... no matter the race, religion or sex. I think we've always had a fantastic share of talent from contestants both black and white ... I don't think I've ever seen racism at the show."

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