Nigel Lythgoe Leaves 'So You Think You Can Dance' Amid Sexual Assault Allegations

Lythgoe is currently facing two sexual assault lawsuits, including one filed by Paula Abdul.

Nigel Lythgoe has left So You Think You Can Dance, amid multiple sexual assault lawsuits and allegations. In addition to being the lead judge on the Fox reality TV competition series, Lythgoe was also the show's co-creator and executive producer. Deadline reports that he stated on Friday to let fans of the show know that he won't be returning.

"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."

The announcement comes just days after it was revealed that former SYTYCD judge Abdul filed a lawsuit against Lythgoe, alleging that he sexually assaulted her in an elevator while they worked together on the show. She also claims that he assaulted her again when they were both working on American Idol, where she was a judge and he was an executive producer. Additionally, Abdul alleges that Lythgoe also sexually assaulted her assistant.

In response to Abdul's lawsuit, Lythgoe denied the allegations. "I want to be clear: not only are they false, they are deeply offensive to me and to everything I stand for. ... I can't pretend to understand exactly why she would file a lawsuit that she must know is untrue," he said. "But I can promise that I will fight this appalling smear with everything I have."

Lythgoe is also facing a lawsuit filed by two women who were contestants on the short-lived reality series All American Girl, which Lythgoe produced. In the suit, the women accuse Lythgoe of "negligence, sexual assault/battery, sexual harassment, gender violence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress." According to the claims in the lawsuit, Lythgoe often interacted with All American Girl contestants and, in one instance, "walked around the set and dressing rooms and openly swatted and groped Plaintiffs' and other contestants' buttocks." 

The women allege that Lythgoe's behavior was "openly accepted" by other staff, as "employees, contractors, representatives, and agents saw this happen but did not act in any manner to condemn the action or prevent it from happening again." Filming for All American Girl took place in Los Angeles, California from January to May 2003, the lawsuit states, going on to allege that Lythgoe made unwanted "sexual advances" towards the two women after a show's wrap party.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or go to rainn.org.