Nigel Lythgoe, judge and producer of “So You Think You Can Dance,” has announced a voluntary hiatus from the show just one week after facing allegations of sexual assault and harassment from musician Paula Abdul. In a statement relayed by his representative to CNN on Friday, Lythgoe expressed that the decision was made “with a heavy heart” and voluntarily, emphasizing that the program’s essence revolves around dance and dancers and that focus should persist in that realm. He conveyed his dedication to clearing his name and restoring his reputation during this period.
Simultaneously, the production entities involved in “Dance” – 19 Entertainment, Dick Clark Productions, and FOX – issued a joint statement to CNN confirming the continuation of the reality competition series for the upcoming season, albeit without Nigel Lythgoe. The statement clarified that no decision has been made regarding a replacement judge for this season.
The previous week saw Grammy winner Paula Abdul, a former judge on “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance,” both under Lythgoe’s executive production, filing a lawsuit against him. The suit alleges sexual assault, harassment, gender violence, and negligence, citing two separate incidents in the early 2000s and 2015. Lythgoe responded to the allegations in a statement to TMZ, calling them “false” and “deeply offensive,” expressing shock and sadness at the accusations made by Abdul.
Abdul’s lawsuit extends to co-defendants, including 19 Entertainment Inc., FremantleMedia North America Inc., American Idol Productions Inc., and Dance Nation Productions Inc. She accuses them of gender violence, sexual harassment, and negligence, claiming they ratified or authorized Lythgoe’s actions by failing to oversee him.
Seeking unspecified punitive damages, Abdul filed the lawsuit under California’s Sexual Abuse and Cover-Up Accountability Act, allowing claims of damages resulting from sexual assault outside the statute of limitations to be filed.
Paula Abdul, known for her extended tenure on “American Idol” and a brief stint on “So You Think You Can Dance,” aims to hold Lythgoe and associated entities accountable for the alleged misconduct. “So You Think You Can Dance,” a long-standing FOX series co-created by Lythgoe, continues without him as the legal proceedings unfold.