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‘So You Think You Can Dance’ judge Nigel Lythgoe steps down from show after sexual assault allegations

Nigel Lythgoe won't be returning to "So You Think You Can Dance" for the upcoming season after Paula Abdul accused him of sexual assault. Lythgoe has denied the allegations.

Nigel Lythgoe will not be appearing on the upcoming season of "So You Think You Can Dance."

In a statement to Fox News Digital, a representative for the show said "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 issued a statement, noting, "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."

Nigel's move to step down from the dancing show comes after Paula Abdul filed a lawsuit accusing him of sexual assault.


In a lawsuit filed Dec. 29 in Los Angeles Superior Court, the 61-year-old singer alleged Lythgoe, 74, sexually assaulted her twice during her stints as a judge on "So You Think You Can Dance" and "American Idol," according to a copy of the complaint obtained by Fox News Digital. 

"To say that I am shocked and saddened by the allegations made against me by Paula Abdul is a wild understatement," Lythgoe said in a statement to Fox News Digital. "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."

In the lawsuit, Abdul claimed the first alleged sexual assault occurred in an elevator during one of the "initial seasons" of "American Idol."

Abdul was a member of "American Idol's" original panel of judges alongside Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson during the show's first eight seasons, from 2002 to 2009. Lythgoe served as the showrunner of "American Idol" from 2002 to 2008. 

He returned as an executive producer for the show's 10th season in 2010 but departed at the end of the 12th season in 2013. Lythgoe made another return to "American Idol" in 2016 as executive producer of the show's series finale.


Lythgoe co-created "So You Think You Can Dance" with "American Idol" creator Simon Fuller and served as a judge for the dance competition series' first 16 seasons from 2005 to 2019.

Abdul served as a guest judge during the 10th season of "SYTYCD" in 2013 and became a permanent judge for seasons 12 and 13 in 2015 and 2016. She also was a member of the panel of judges for "So You Think You Can Dance Australia" during the show's fourth season in 2014.


In her complaint, Abdul accused Lythgoe of sexually assaulting her a second time while she was a judge on "SYTYCD" in 2015. 

The "Straight Up" singer alleged the incident took place at his home after she had joined him for dinner. Abdul stated that she attended the dinner because she believed Lythgoe had extended her a "professional invitation."

Abdul also accused Lythgoe of sexually assaulting one of her assistants during the production of "SYTYCD" in 2015. 

Fox News Digital's Ashley Hume contributed to this report.

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