Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash has quit Sesame Street as allegations surface of sex with another underage boy.
A New York Times blog reports that the once-celebrated voice of the iconic children's character has resigned, according to statement released today by 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 had been suspended after a 23-year-old accuser said Clash began a sexual relationship with him when the accuser was 16 years old. That accuser, Sheldon Stephens, recanted his accusations after a reported $125,000 settlement with Clash. Clash admitted a relationship with Stephens but said their sex began after the boy was 18.
But now TMZ is reporting that a second accuser named Cecil Singleton says Clash met him on a gay chat line when he was 15 and clash was 32.
Cecil has filed a lawsuit and is seeking a $5 million settlement. The suit claims Clash was "preying on teenage boys to satisfy his depraved sexual interests."
Clash was the subject of an acclaimed 2011 documentary called Being Elmo, highlighting his extraordinary talent for puppeteering and his journey to prominence as the creative force behind Sesame Street's most popular character. The film made Clash a household name less than two years before his career came crashing down in the recent sex scandal.