Nigel Lythgoe, the 74-year-old television producer and long-time judge on So You Think You Can Dance, has announced his voluntary departure from the upcoming season of the show. The decision follows recent sexual assault allegations made by Paula Abdul, who accused Lythgoe of assaulting her during their time working on American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance.
In a joint statement from 19 Entertainment, Dick Clark Productions, FOX, and the production companies/network of So You Think You Can Dance, it was confirmed that Lythgoe will no longer be a judge on the show. The statement emphasized the commitment to the contestants and the show’s focus on dance. The upcoming season will proceed without Lythgoe, with no decision yet on a replacement judge. The season is set to premiere on FOX on Monday, March 4th.
Lythgoe responded to the allegations made by Paula Abdul, denying all claims and expressing shock and sadness. The sexual assault lawsuit, filed under the Sexual Abuse and Cover Up Accountability Act, alleges sexual assault, battery, harassment, gender violence, and negligence. Following Abdul’s accusations, two contestants from the 2003 reality show All American Girl filed a lawsuit against Lythgoe, citing negligence, sexual assault, harassment, gender violence, and emotional distress.