‘So You Think You Can Dance’ will go on without Nigel Lythgoe amid sexual assault allegations

Nigel Lythgoe has been dropped from Fox‘s “So You Think You Can Dance” ahead of the dance competition’s 18th season, the show’s producers confirmed to The Times.

The announcement was made days after Paula Abdul and two former contestants from one of the producer’s shows accused him of sexual assault in separate lawsuits.

The show’s production companies — 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions — and Fox, which airs the dance competition, said in a joint statement that the show “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,” the statement added. The long-running dance competition, which Lythgoe created, was renewed for its 18th season in December, with him returning as an executive producer and judge.

Lythgoe said in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter that the decision to step away from the show was his. “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,” he said. “In the meantime, I am dedicating myself to clearing my name and restoring my reputation.”

Last week, Abdul sued Lythgoe, alleging that the producer sexually assaulted her twice while they worked together on his shows “American Idol” and “SYTYCD.”

The producer denied Abdul’s allegations, calling them “false” and “deeply offensive to me and to everything I stand for.” He called his relationship with Abdul “entirely platonic,” saying she was a friend and colleague, and he vowed to “fight this appalling smear with everything I have.”

Then, earlier this week, two additional women came forward accusing him of sexually assaulting them in 2003. The women were identified as former contestants Jane Doe K.G. and Jane Doe K.N. of television game show “AAG,” which is believed to be a reference to Lythgoe’s short-lived “All American Girl.”

Abdul and the two women joined a growing list of accusers who have filed lawsuits under California’s Sexual Abuse and Cover Up Accountability Act, which allows survivors of sexual assault to sue beyond the usual statute of limitations.

After the second lawsuit, pressure began to mount for companies doing business with Lythgoe. At least one petition — started by antisexism advocacy group UltraViolet — has sprung up amid news of the second lawsuit, calling on Fox to drop Lythgoe. The petition, launched Wednesday, is addressed to Allison Wallach, Fox Entertainment’s president of unscripted programming and has amassed more than 7,000 signatures.

“We cannot stay silent while Fox profits from and promotes a known abuser,” the petition said.

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