**Trigger Warning: This story contains details of sexual assault.
Nigel Lythgoe won’t be appearing as a judge on the upcoming 18th season of So You Think You Can Dance? after multiple people, including former ‘SYTYCD’ and American Idol judge Paula Abdul, accused him of sexual assault.
“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,” Nigel shared in a statement released to TMZ and other media outlets. “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.”
The Ashley reported, Paula filed a lawsuit against Nigel at the end of December, alleging the reality TV producer sexually assaulted her on two separate occasions. According to Paula’s lawsuit, the first assault allegedly occurred in a hotel elevator during the early days of ‘American Idol.’
“[Nigel] shoved [Paula] against the wall, then grabbed her genitals and breasts, and began shoving his tongue down her throat,” court documents state. “[Paula] attempted to push [Nigel] away from her. When the doors to the elevator for her door opened, [Paula] ran out of the elevator and to her hotel room. [Paula] quickly called one of her representatives in tears to inform them of the assault.”
Paula stated that the second assault allegedly happened at Nigel’s home between 2015 and 2016 when Paula was appearing as a judge on ‘SYTYCD,’ according to court documents.
“Toward the end of the evening, [Nigel] forced himself on top of [Paula] while she was seated on his couch and attempted to kiss her while proclaiming that the two would make an excellent ‘power couple.’ [Paula] pushed [Nigel] off of her, explaining that she was not interested in his advances and immediately left.”
Nigel’s also been accused of sexually assaulting one of Paula’s assistants.
Paula named ‘SYTYCD’ co-producer 19 Entertainment— a Sony Pictures Entertainment subsidiary– as a co-defendant in her lawsuit, citing allegations of sexual assault and battery, sexual harassment, gender violence and negligence. In response to the charges, Sony opened up an internal investigation.
Two contestants from the short-lived 2003 reality show All American Girl filed their own lawsuit against Nigel last week, charging the show’s executive producer with negligence, sexual assault/battery, sexual harassment, gender violence and intentional infliction of emotional distress, The Ashley reported. Among the allegations listed in the lawsuit is that Nigel “walked around the set and dressing rooms and openly swatted and groped Plaintiffs’ and other contestants’ buttocks.”
Nigel maintains his innocence, asserting in his statement about his ‘SYTYCD’ exit, “I am dedicating myself to clearing my name and restoring my reputation.”
He previously responded to Paula’s claims, calling them “false” and “deeply offensive to me and to everything I stand for.”