Voice actor Kevin Clash arrives with the puppet Elmo for
the 2010 Peabody Award ceremony at the Waldorf Astoria in
New York in this file photo. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/Files
Kevin Clash, the puppeteer behind the "Sesame Street"
character Elmo, has resigned following new allegations that he
had sex with an underage boy, adding to an ongoing controversy
involving one of America's most popular children's brands.
The announcement came just a week after another man recanted
his claims that Clash, 52, had sex with him when he was 16
"Unfortunately, the controversy surrounding Kevin's personal
life has become a distraction that none of us wants, and he
has concluded that he can no longer be effective in his job
and has resigned from Sesame Street," New York-based Sesame
Workshop, the company behind the show, said in a statement.
"This is a sad day for Sesame Street," it added.
In a lawsuit filed on Tuesday, Cecil Singleton is seeking
more than $5 million in damages from Clash. Singleton claims
he met the then 32-year-old puppeteer in 1993 in a gay chat
room when he was 15.
It added that on numerous occasions over a period of years
Clash engaged in sexual activity with Singleton.
A representative for Clash was not immediately available for
comment on Tuesday.
The unnamed 23-year-old man who first accused Clash recanted
his claims last week, saying the relationship was consensual.
Clash had denied the allegations and acknowledged a past
relationship with his accuser. He added the pair were both
consenting adults at the time.
"I am a gay man. I have never been ashamed of this or tried
to hide it," Clash said at the time, adding that he was
taking a break from the TV show to deal with the situation.
Sesame Workshop said the allegations involving Clash came to
its attention in June when the first accuser first contacted
the company by email.
The Elmo character debuted on "Sesame Street" in 1979. While
Clash was the third performer to animate the child-like
shaggy red monster, Sesame Workshop credits him with turning
Elmo into the international sensation he became.