Elmo puppeteer resigns amid new sex allegations
BY FRAZIER MOORE Associated Press
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
11/21/12 at 3:22 AM
NEW YORK - Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash has resigned from "Sesame Street" in the wake of an allegation that he had sex with an under-aged youth.
In its statement Tuesday, Sesame Workshop said "the controversy surrounding Kevin's personal life has become a distraction that none of us want," leading Clash to conclude "that he can no longer be effective in his job."
"This is a sad day for Sesame Street," the statement said.
As the announcement was made, a lawsuit was being filed in federal court in New York charging Clash with sexual abuse of a second youth. The lawsuit alleges that Cecil Singleton, then 15 and now an adult, was persuaded by Clash to meet for sexual encounters.
The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $5 million.
Clash, who had been on "Sesame Street" for 28 years, created the high-pitched voice and childlike persona for Elmo, a furry, red Muppet that became one of the most popular characters on the show and one of the company's most lucrative properties. Sesame Workshop produces "Sesame Street" in New York.
Clash's exit followed a tumultuous week that began on Nov. 12 with a statement from the company that Clash had requested a leave of absence following the charge by a man in his early 20s that he'd had a relationship with Clash when he was 16.
Clash denied the charge from that man, who has not been publicly identified, calling it "false and defamatory."
Clash, the 52-year-old divorced father of a grown daughter, acknowledged that he is gay in that statement.
Although it remained unclear who might take over for Clash performing as Elmo, other "Sesame Street" puppeteers have been trained to serve as his stand-in, Sesame Workshop said.
"Elmo is bigger than any one person," they said last week.
Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash resigned from "Sesame Street" in the wake of allegations that he had sex with an under-aged youth. VICTORIA WILL / AP file