Nigel Lythgoe is out as a ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ judge

Nigel Lythgoe has been axed 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 was made 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 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 referee for this season,» the statement added. The long-running dance competition that Lythgoe created was renewed for its 18th season in December, when he returns as executive producer and judge.

Lythgoe said in a statement Hollywood Reporter that the decision to leave the show was his. «I did it with a heavy heart but completely voluntarily because this great program has always been about dance and dancers and that is where its focus must remain,» he said. “In the meantime, I am dedicated to clearing my name and restoring my reputation.

Last week, Abdul sued Lythgoe, claiming 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 «false» and «deeply offensive to me and everything I stand for». Calling his relationship with Abdul «completely platonic», he said she was a friend and colleague and vowed to «fight this appalling defilement with everything I’ve got».

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Earlier this week, two more women came forward to accuse him of sexual assault in 2003. The women were identified as former contestants Jane Doe KG and Jane Doe KN of the TV game show «AAG,» which is believed to be a reference to Lythgoe’s short-lived «All American Girl».

Abdul and the two women join a growing list of plaintiffs who have filed lawsuits under California’s Sexual Abuse and Liability Coverage Act, which allows survivors of sexual assault to sue beyond the usual statute of limitations.

After the second lawsuit, pressure began to mount on companies trading with Lythgoe. At least one petition—started by the anti-sexist group UltraViolet—emerged amid news of a second lawsuit calling for Fox to drop Lythgoe. The petition, which was launched Wednesday, is addressed to Allison Wallach, president of unscripted programming for Fox Entertainment, and has amassed more than 7,000 signatures.

«We cannot remain silent while Fox profits from and promotes a known rapist,» the petition reads.

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