The voice of Elmo, Kevin Clash, has resigned from his job as Sesame Street’s most popular character as a result of the allegations made against him of underage sexual relationships. The first claims were made against Clash last week by a 24-year-old man named Sheldon Stephens.
Clash’s news of his resignation came not long after a lawsuit was filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan that accused Clash of ‘sexual activity’ with a second person, Cecil Singleton, who was 15 at the time of the relationship. According to the New York Times, the lawsuit, “did not become aware that he had suffered adverse psychological and emotional effects from Kevin Clash’s sexual acts and conduct until 2012.” The lawsuit is asking for $5 million in damages.
A statement was released by Sesame Workshop that said the following:
“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 released a statement that said:
“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 has been the voice of Elmo for decades and the allegations against him came to the surface last week. One day later, the claims were recanted, after Clash came out as a gay man. He had never discussed his private life in public prior to these allegations.
“I have never been ashamed of this or tried to hide it, but felt it was a personal and private matter,” Clash said in a statement last week.
Sesame Street production will not be affected by Clash’s resignation as it was not affected when the claims first came out against Clash. In fact, Clash had been working to find other puppeteers who could portray Elmo to fill-in for him while he is away from work.