‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Judge Exits After Paula Abdul Lawsuit

Nigel Lythgoe has stepped down as a judge of “So You Think You Can Dance,” the show said on Friday, after he was sued by Paula Abdul and accused of sexual assault.

Mr. Lythgoe, who has denied sexually assaulting Ms. Abdul, said in a statement that he was stepping down from the show that he had helped create “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,” Mr. Lythgoe, who was also a producer of the show, said in the statement.

Variety was first to report Mr. Lythgoe’s exit.

In the lawsuit, which was filed last month, Ms. Abdul accused Mr. Lythgoe of shoving her against the wall of a hotel elevator, grabbing her genitals and breasts and shoving his tongue down her throat in the early 2000s while she was a judge on “American Idol.” Mr. Lythgoe, who had been a producer for the show at the time, called the allegations “false” and “deeply offensive to me and to everything I stand for.”

Mr. Lythgoe, 74, has been one of the faces of “So You Think You Can Dance” since he helped create the show in 2005. He had been among the producers who had made “American Idol” a phenomenon in the United States after an earlier iteration aired in Britain, and “So You Think You Can Dance” also proved to be a ratings success in its early seasons by following a similar format.

Mr. Lythgoe, a commercial dance impresario, had been a judge on the show for 16 of its 17 seasons, providing on-air feedback to young contemporary, ballroom and hip-hop dancers. The show had been planning a return this spring with a new format and was going to team Mr. Lythgoe with new judges, including Maksim Chmerkovskiy, the “Dancing With the Stars” choreographer, and Allison Holker, a former contestant.

The production companies behind the show, which include Dick Clark Productions and 19 Entertainment, and Fox, the network that airs it, said in a joint statement on Friday that the show would proceed without Mr. Lythgoe and would remain “committed to the contestants, who have worked incredibly hard for the opportunity to compete on our stage.”

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