Nigel Lythgoe Leaves So You Think You Can Dance Amid Paula Abdul’s Sexual Assault Lawsuit

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Nigel Lythgoe is exiting So You Think You Can Dance after former judge Paula Abdul accused him of sexual assault. He has denied the allegation.

The executive producer and co-creator of the dance competition announced that he’s voluntarily leaving the show. His departure comes a week after former SYTYCD and American Idol judge Paula Abdul accused him of sexual assault in Dec. 29 lawsuit.

“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,” Lythgoe said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter Jan. 5. “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.”

The 74-year-old added, “In the meantime, I am dedicating myself to clearing my name and restoring my reputation.”

FOX, Dick Clark Productions and 19 Entertainment confirmed the exit to E! News, saying in a joint statement that “the show remains committed to the contestants” and they have not made a decision on a replacement judge.

Abdul, 61, accused Lythgoe of assaulting her when they worked together on SYTYCD and American Idol. She alleged in her lawsuit that he groped and kissed her while they were traveling for American Idol’s regional auditions in one of the early seasons.

Additionally, the singer accused Lythgoe of forcing himself on her during a dinner at his house while they were co-judges on So You Think You Can Dance between 2015 and 2016.

She accepted the invite “to discuss other opportunities for the two to work together,” per her lawsuit, but alleged Lythgoe forced himself on top of her on his couch and “attempted to kiss her while proclaiming that the two would make an excellent ‘power couple.'”

Paula Abdul, Nigel LythgoeRodin Eckenroth / Getty Images for Associated Television International / Rodin Eckenroth / Getty Images

Abdul said she attempted to push him away in both cases, adding that she has suffered severe emotional distress, emotional anguish, fear, anxiety, humiliation and embarrassment following the alleged encounters.

For his part, Lythgoe has denied the allegations.

“To say that I am shocked and saddened by the allegations made against me by Paula Abdul is a wild understatement,” he said in a Dec. 31 statement to E! News. “For more than two decades, Paula and I have interacted as dear—and entirely platonic—friends and colleagues.”

Lythgoe continued, “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.”

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