JoJo Siwa is returning to the judging panel of So You Think You Can Dance, Fox announced on Friday (Jan. 26).
The dancer and online star will be joining previously announced judges Allison Holker and Maksim Chmerkovskiy on the upcoming 18th season, which airs on March 4 at 9 p.m. ET on Fox, before streaming the next day on Hulu.
Siwa is replacing Nigel Lythroe, who stepped away from the show earlier this month amid a lawsuit by Paula Abdul accusing him of sexual assault. “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, who is also an executive producer of the show, said in a statement to the publication. “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.”
Lythgoe’s departure comes amid a lawsuit from Paula Abdul, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Friday (Dec. 29) and obtained by Billboard, claiming that the former American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance producer sexually assaulted her on two occasions. The first instance allegedly occurred during one of the early seasons of American Idol and the second took place in 2014 when she was in talks to judge So You Think You Can Dance.
Abdul alleges in the suit that Lythgoe first sexually assaulted her in an elevator of a hotel where they were both staying while traveling for one of Idol‘s “initial seasons.” It does not state a specific year the alleged incident occurred.
Abdul’s complaint claims that Lythgoe sexually assaulted Abdul again in 2014 when she was approached for a judging position on So You Think You Can Dance. The alleged incident took place during a dinner at his home where the two were supposed to discuss her professional opportunities, according to the lawsuit. See the full details of her lawsuit here.
Lythgoe denied the claims, saying in a statement that he was “shocked and saddened” to hear of the allegations made by Abdul, who he said he considered a “dear” and “entirely platonic” friend, The Associated Press reports.