Nigel Lythgoe, the longtime host and judge of the hit reality dance competition So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD), announced this week that he is stepping down from the show, following explosive sexual assault allegations made against him last month.
Background on Sexual Assault Lawsuit
The allegations first surfaced on December 30th, when celebrity singer and former American Idol judge Paula Abdul filed a lawsuit accusing Lythgoe of sexual battery, assault, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
In the lawsuit, Abdul alleges that Lythgoe repeatedly groped her, made lewd sexual comments, and once shoved her against a wall and demanded oral sex. The abuse allegedly occurred during their long working relationship in the 2000s on American Idol.
Lythgoe has vehemently denied the claims, calling them “false, malicious, and defamatory.”
However, in the weeks since Abdul’s filing, several other women have come forward with their own allegations against Lythgoe:
- On January 3rd, two former contestants on his show All American Girl accused him of sexual assault in separate lawsuits
- Earlier this week, two more SYTYCD contestants alleged abusive and harassing behavior by Lythgoe during their time on the show
Lythgoe Steps Down from SYTYCD
On January 5th, in the wake of the new lawsuits, Lythgoe and SYTYCD network Fox announced that he would be stepping down as a judge on the show, effective immediately.
Lythgoe co-created SYTYCD back in 2005 and has been a fixture on the judges’ panel ever since. His outrageous critiques of contestants’ performances and flamboyant personality earned him both fans and critics over the show’s 19 seasons.
In their statement, Fox and 19 Entertainment said:
Nigel Lythgoe has decided to step aside as judge on So You Think You Can Dance to focus on this matter and to restore his reputation after these accusations. Out of respect for all involved, we think his choice is correct and we support Nigel taking this course. We take all accusations very seriously, no matter the circumstances or timeframe.
They confirmed that SYTYCD would continue its upcoming 18th season without Lythgoe on the judges’ panel. Longtime judge and ballroom expert Mary Murphy is expected to continue, along with guest judges like tWitch and JoJo Siwa.
Lythgoe Denies Allegations, Criticizes Public Judgments
In his own statement, Lythgoe continued maintaining his innocence:
I am very upset that the public may be making judgments based on falsities and untruths. It is deeply frustrating to have no venue to tell MY side of this and defend myself after decades of professional partnerships and mutual respect. For legal reasons I cannot rebut the allegations at this time, but I will dispute them vigorously and expect to be fully vindicated.
His lawyer has also criticized the “rush to judgment” against Lythgoe in the media and on social networks.
Nonetheless, the mounting allegations and departure from his iconic show signify a precipitous fall from grace and growing crisis for the veteran TV personality and producer.
Allegations Against Lythgoe Summarized
|– Sexual battery
– Emotional distress
|Jane Doe #1
|All American Girl
|– Sexual assault
|Jane Doe #2
|All American Girl
|– Sexual assault
Samantha Cook | So You Think You Can Dance | – Sexual comments/advances |
Lauren Taylor | So You Think You Can Dance | – Unwanted kissing/groping |
Table summarizing key allegations against Nigel Lythgoe from recent lawsuits
SYTYCD Network Launches Investigation
Further fueling the turmoil around Lythgoe, Fox and 19 Entertainment, the co-producers of SYTYCD, announced they have launched an internal investigation into the environment on set:
We take matters of safety, accountability and respect very seriously. While we can’t comment on any pending legal matters, we are conducting an investigation into issues of concern around SYTYCD. We aim to provide contestants and crew with a safe, inclusive environment where they are heard, respected and valued.
Critics are skeptical if the companies can impartially investigate themselves and are calling for an independent probe. Nonetheless, the investigation indicates potential liability fears and hints at deeper issues plaguing the long-running franchise.
Several former SYTYCD contestants and crew have come out alleging the show enabled a culture of rampant sexual harassment and unfair manipulation behind the scenes.
If substantiated, these accusations of systemic abuse could permanently tarnish SYTYCD’s brand and legacy.
What Next for Nigel Lythgoe?
For now, Lythgoe appears focused on defending himself legally and in the court of public opinion. His lawyer has been aggressive in denying liability and criticizing Abdul and the other accusers.
However, the multiplying allegations have clearly become an existential threat to his career. Once a titan of reality television, his professional prospects look increasingly dim.
It remains unclear if Lythgoe has any chance of regaining his prominent industry positions, even if he proves his legal innocence down the road. The stink of scandal may stick permanently given today’s cultural climate.
At a minimum, Lythgoe faces prolonged legal battles, hefty lawyers fees, immense stress, and further reputational damage from ongoing headlines probing his alleged misconduct.
While the accused is entitled to due process, many SYTYCD fans feel his departure allows the beloved show to move forward with its core spirit of showcasing inspirational artistic talent intact.
As veteran judge Mary Murphy infectiously declares each episode – “It’s gonna be a hot tamale train wreck!” This season, sadly, that catchphrase has taken on a newly somber meaning off-stage. But the show, devoted fans hope, will go on.
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