Nigel Lythgoe was removed 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 came 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 broadcasts the dance competition, said in a joint statement that the show “will continue, albeit without Nigel Lythgoe, to ensure that the 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 on a replacement judge for this season,” the statement added. The long-running dance competition, created by Lythgoe, was renewed for its 18th season in December, with his return as executive producer and judge.
Lythgoe said in a statement to the hollywood reporter that the decision to walk away from the series was his own. “I did it with a heavy heart, but entirely voluntarily, because this great program has always been about the dance and the dancers, and that’s where the focus needs to be kept,” he said. “In the meantime, I am dedicated to clearing my name and restoring my reputation.”
Last week, Abdul continued Lythgoe, alleging 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 “wrong” and “deeply offensive to me and everything I represent.” He described his relationship with Abdul as “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 to accuse him of sexually assaulting them in 2003. The women were identified as former contestants Jane Doe KG and Jane Doe KN on the game show “AAG,” 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 Liability Act, which allows survivors of sexual assault to sue beyond the deadline of usual prescription.
After the second trial, pressure began to mount for companies doing business with Lythgoe. At least a petition — launched by an anti-sexism advocacy group Ultraviolet – appeared amid the announcement of the second trial, calling on Fox to drop Lythgoe. The petition, launched Wednesday, is addressed to Allison Wallach, president of unscripted programming at Fox Entertainment, and has garnered more than 7,000 signatures.
“We cannot remain silent while Fox profits and promotes a known abuser,” the petition states.