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Nigel Lythgoe stepping away from ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ duties

By Sandra Gonzalez, CNN

(CNN) — “So You Think You Can Dance” judge and producer Nigel Lythgoe says he is taking some time away from the show one week after he was accused of sexual assault and harassment by musician Paula Abdul.

Lythgoe said in a statement to CNN from his representative on Friday that his decision was made “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.”

“In the meantime, I am dedicating myself to clearing my name and restoring my reputation,” his statement added.

Also on Friday, 19 Entertainment, Dick Clark Productions, and FOX – the production companies and network behind “Dance” – released a joint statement to CNN confirming the upcoming season of the reality competition series, “although without Nigel Lythgoe.”

“No decision has been made as to a replacement judge for this season,” the statement added.

Last week, Grammy winner Abdul, who is a former judge on “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance” – both of which count Lythgoe as an executive producer – filed a suit against Lythgoe, accusing him of sexual assault and harassment along with gender violence and negligence.

The complaint, which was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court and obtained by CNN, outlined two separate incidents that Abdul alleges occurred in the early 2000s and in 2015, respectively.

Lythgoe called allegations “false” and “deeply offensive” in a statement to TMZ at the time.

“To say that I am shocked and saddened by the allegations made against me by Paula Abdul is a wild understatement,” Lythgoe said.

Abdul is suing Lythgoe and names 19 Entertainment Inc., FremantleMedia North America Inc., American Idol Productions Inc. and Dance Nation Productions Inc. as co-defendents, accusing them of gender violence, sexual harassment and negligence and of having “ratified and/or authorized Lythgoe’s sexual assault and battery of Abdul” by failing to oversee Lythgoe.

She is seeking unspecified punitive damages.

Abdul’s lawsuit was filed under California’s Sexual Abuse and Cover Up Accountability Act, which allows for claims of “damages suffered as a result of a sexual assault” that occurred outside the statute of limitations to be filed for a period of time.

Abdul served as a judge on “American Idol” for nine seasons beginning in its first season and as a judge on “So You Think You Can Dance” for two seasons.

“So You Think You Can Dance” has aired 17 seasons on FOX since 2005. Lythgoe is co-creator of the franchise and has served as an executive producer on both the US and UK versions. He served as a judge for 16 seasons.

CNN’s Alli Rosenbloom and Dan Heching contributed to this report.

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