(Los Angeles) Television producer Nigel Lythgoe announced Friday that he is stepping down from his role as a judge on the show So You Think You Can Dance following lawsuits accusing him of sexual assault, including one from singer and choreographer Paula Abdul.
Mr. Lythgoe is also co-creator and executive producer of the Fox dance competition, whose 18th season is scheduled to debut in March.
“I have informed the producers of So You Think You Can Dance of my decision not to participate in this year’s series,” Mr Lythgoe said in a statement.
“I made this decision with a heavy heart, but of my own free will, because this wonderful program has always been about dance and dancers, and that is where its focus must continue. In the meantime, I am dedicated to clearing my name and restoring my reputation,” he added.
Aged 74 and born in England, Mr. Lythgoe has been a successful television producer for decades, both in the United Kingdom and the United States, where he worked on reality shows including “American Idol.”
In a complaint filed Dec. 30, singer and dancer Paula Abdul claims Mr. Lythgoe assaulted her twice, first in the early 2000s when he was a judge on American Idol, and then again. ten years later, when he was a judge on the show So You Think You Can Dance, which she left after two seasons.
Mr Lythgoe called the allegations an “appalling smear” which he intends to fight.
The Associated Press generally does not identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they come forward publicly, as Ms. Abdul has done.