JoJo Siwa Replaces Nigel Lythgoe on ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Amid Sexual Assault Suits

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JoJo Siwa attends the Painted launch party on August 07, 2023 in Los Angeles, California - Credit: Getty Images for Painted
JoJo Siwa attends the Painted launch party on August 07, 2023 in Los Angeles, California - Credit: Getty Images for Painted

JoJo Siwa is returning as a judge for the upcoming season of So You Think You Can Dance, replacing former judge and executive producer Nigel Lythgoe, who stepped down this month following multiple lawsuits accusing him of sexual assault.

Siwa served as a judge on the show’s 17th season in 2022, alongside the late Stephen “tWitch” Boss, as well as with actors Matthew Morrison (who was dismissed from the show over text messages he reportedly sent to a contestant) and Leah Remini. This year, Siwa joins Allison Holker and Maksim Chmerkovskiy. The new season will premiere on Fox in March.

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Lythgoe, a co-creator of the show, served as executive producer since SYTYCD first aired in 2005. He stepped down from his post on the show following two lawsuits accusing him of sexual assault. Paula Abdul alleged that Lythgoe assaulted her multiple times: Once during one of the early seasons of American Idol (where Lythgoe was also a producer at the time) and a second time at his home in 2014 later when she was a judge on So You Think You Can Dance. Days later, two anonymous Jane Doe accusers filed a lawsuit alleging that Lythgoe forced himself on them while they were participants for the show All American Girl.

Lythgoe denied Abdul’s allegations, saying in a statement that “not only are they false, they are deeply offensive to me and to everything I stand for.” Variety reported in early January that Sony’s 19 Productions had launched an investigation into Lythgoe over the allegations.

Lythgoe confirmed he was stepping down on January 5th.

“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,” Lythgoe said in a statement at the time. “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. In the meantime, I am dedicating myself to clearing my name and restoring my reputation.”

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