Nigel Lythgoe has announced his departure from the popular TV show ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ following sexual assault allegations made by Paula Abdul. Lythgoe has denied these claims.
The show’s upcoming season will proceed without Lythgoe’s presence. A representative for the show conveyed to Fox News Digital, “19 Entertainment, Dick Clark Productions and FOX can confirm the upcoming season of ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ 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.
“No decision has been made as to a replacement judge for this season, which will premiere on FOX on Monday, March 4.”
Lythgoe also released a statement: “I have informed the producers of ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ of my decision to step back from participating in this year’s series. 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. In the meantime, I am dedicating myself to clearing my name and restoring my reputation.”
The decision follows a lawsuit filed by Paula Abdul, alleging Lythgoe sexually assaulted her twice, once during “American Idol” and again in 2015 on “So You Think You Can Dance.” Abdul was a judge on both shows during the periods mentioned in the lawsuit.
Lythgoe responded to these allegations, stating, “To say that I am shocked and saddened by the allegations made against me by Paula Abdul is a wild understatement. For more than two decades, Paula and I have interacted as dear – and entirely platonic – friends and colleagues.
“Yesterday, however, out of the blue, I learned of these claims in the press, and I want to be clear: Not only are they false, they are deeply offensive to me and to everything I stand for.
“While Paula’s history of erratic behavior is well known, I can’t pretend to understand exactly why she would file a lawsuit that she must know is untrue. But I can promise that I will fight this appalling smear with everything I have.”
The lawsuit alleges the first incident occurred in an elevator during the early seasons of “American Idol,” with a second alleged incident at Lythgoe’s home in 2015, which Abdul believed was a professional invitation. Abdul also claims an assistant was assaulted during the production of “So You Think You Can Dance” in 2015.