Nigel Lythgoe steps down from So You Think You Can Dance following second sexual assault lawsuit SuperNayr

Nigel Lythgoe is stepping down as a judge on So You Think You Can Dance after being hit with a second sexual assault lawsuit this week.

The English producer, director and dance competition judge was first accused of sexual assault by former American Idol judge Paula Abdul in papers filed 29 December.

On Tuesday (2 January) two former contestants of All-American Girl, an all-girl competition show that Lythgoe, 74, produced, also accused him of sexual assault/battery.

In a statement provided to Variety on Friday, Lythgoe announced his decision to exit Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance.

“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,” the producer said.

“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.”

(Getty Images for American Ballet)

Lythgoe has appeared as a judge on the show since it premiered in 2005, with the latest 18th season set to air on 4 March.

Sony Pictures Television’s 19 Entertainment, which co-produces So You Think You Can Dance, has opened an investigation into Lythgoe’s alleged actions, Variety reported, citing a source.

In a statement, Fox, 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions said the upcoming season “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”.

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“No decision has been made as to a replacement judge for this season, which will premiere on FOX on Monday, March 4th,” the companies added.

After Abdul came forward, Lythgoe said he was “shocked” by the allegations, and denied abusing her in a statement.

She claims that during one of the early seasons of American Idol, the TV executive shoved her against a wall and groped her breast and genitals, and shoved his tongue down her throat.

(Invision)

Abdul also claims that she saw Lythgoe sexually assault one of her assistants in April 2015. She alleges that his behaviour was common knowledge in the TV industry, and that it was even parodied in a 2008 episode of MADtv.

According to the plaintiffs in the second lawsuit, Jane Doe KG and Jane Doe KN, Lythgoe “walked around the set [of All-American Girl] and dressing rooms and openly swatted and groped Plaintiffs’ and other contestants’ buttocks”.

The plaintiffs have accused the producer of sexual assault/battery, sexual harassment, gender violence and intentional infliction of emotional distress for an incident they claim to have occurred in May 2003.

Lythgoe’s representative did not respond to The Independent’s request for comment.

Lythgoe began his entertainment career in the Seventies and Eighties, later producing British TV shows including Blind Date and Gladiators.

He served as a judge on Popstars, earning the nickname “Nasty Nigel” by the tabloid press for his harsh feedback to contestants.

Rape Crisis offers support for those affected by rape and sexual abuse. You can call them on 0808 802 9999 in England and Wales, 0808 801 0302 in Scotland, and 0800 0246 991 in Northern Ireland, or visit their website at www.rapecrisis.org.uk. If you are in the US, you can call Rainn on 800-656-HOPE (4673)

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