Kevin Clash has resigned from "Sesame Street. This comes after new allegations that the longtime voice and puppeteer behind the popular Muppet character "Elmo" had a sexual relationship with yet another underage youth.
The New York Times released this statement from the Sesame Workshop.
Sesame Workshop’s mission is to harness the educational power of media to help all children the world over reach their highest potential. Kevin Clash has helped us achieve that mission for 28 years, and none of us, especially Kevin, want anything to divert our attention from our focus on serving as a leading educational organization. Unfortunately, the controversy surrounding Kevin’s personal life has become a distraction that none of us want, and he has concluded that he can no longer be effective in his job and has resigned from Sesame Street. This is a sad day for Sesame Street.
Clash's hasty departure from the iconic children's television program apparently was in response to more damaging claims alleging underage sex. A second accuser has filed a federal lawsuit in New York City claiming they had a sexual relationship almost a decade ago, reports TMZ.
The accuser who is now 24 has filed a lawsuit against Clash ... claiming the two met on a gay phone chat line back in 1993 ... when the accuser was 15 years old and Clash was 32. In the suit, the accuser reveals his name -- Cecil Singleton.
Among the allegations, Singleton claims, "[Clash] trolled gay telephone chat line rooms to meet and have sex with underage boys." Singleton claims Clash "groomed [the accuser] to gain his trust by, among other things, taking him to nice dinners and giving him money." Singleton claims while Clash was featured on "Sesame Street," he was "preying on teenage boys to satisfy his depraved sexual interests."
Clash said in his own statement today:
"I am resigning from Sesame Workshop with a very heavy heart. I have loved every day of my 28 years working for this exceptional organization. Personal matters have diverted attention away from the important work Sesame Street is doing and I cannot allow it to go on any longer. I am deeply sorry to be leaving and am looking forward to resolving these personal matters privately."
Clash was first accused last week by 24-year-old Sheldon Stephens, who later recanted his allegations. Stephens announced yesterday that the claims were indeed true and he was pressured into a financial settlement. Stephens has told his "lawyers he will gladly forfeit the $125,000 to restore his name," reports TMZ. "Stephens says he was literally crying during the final negotiations and repeatedly said he didn't want to sign."
Kevin Clash was one of the executive producers at Sesame Street and has worked on the popular series since 1981. Clash has been Elmo's voice and puppetteer since at least 1984.
"Clash had been helping to identify other puppeteers who could play Elmo for some time, and they filled in for him while he was away from work," adds the New York Times. "But the repetition of claims about underage sex in the same sentence as a beloved children’s character may impact the “Sesame Street” brand in ways that remain to be seen."
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