Updated January 6th, 2024 at 09:23 IST

Nigel Lythgoe steps down as So You Think You Can Dance judge following sexual assault lawsuit

Nigel Lythgoe, who also produced So You Think You Can Dance, earlier refuted sexual assault claims, describing them as "false" and "deeply offensive."

Nigel Lythgoe file photo | Image:AP
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TV producer Nigel Lythgoe shared that he is stepping aside as a judge on So You Think You Can Dance after lawsuits accusing him of sexual assault, including one from Paula Abdul. Lythgoe is also co-creator and executive producer of the Fox dance competition series, whose 18th season is set to start in March. He issued a statement on Friday which mentioned that he is dedicated to 'clearing his name and restoring his reputation'.

Nigel Lythgoe issues statement

Nigel Lythgoe's statement read, “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. “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.”

(File photo | Image: AP)

Nigel Lythgoe accused of harassment and bullying

The 74-year-old English-born Lythgoe has been a prominent TV producer for decades in both the U.K. and the U.S., working on reality competition shows including “American Idol.”

The singer and dancer Abdul alleged in a lawsuit filed Dec. 30 that Lythgoe twice assaulted her — first in the early 2000s when she was an “American Idol” judge and again about a decade later when she was a judge on “So You Think You Can Dance,” which she left after two seasons. In the suit, Paula alleges that during one of the early seasons of American Idol, Lythgoe sexually assaulted her in an elevator, reports Variety. She alleged that he shoved her against a wall, groped her, and shoved his tongue down her throat. According to the suit, she tried to push him away, and as soon as the door opened, she ran to her room.

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(File photo | Image: AP)

Nigel Lythgoe's reaction to sexual assault lawsuit

Lythgoe told TMZ, “Paula and I have interacted as dear -- and entirely platonic. To say that I am shocked and saddened by the allegations made against me by Paula Abdul is a wild understatement.”

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Shortly after Paula accused him of pushing her up against a wall and touching her privates, Nigel responded, “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."

(With inputs from agencies)

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Published January 6th, 2024 at 09:23 IST