Stepping down ... Kevin Clash with Elmo. Photo: Richard Termine
Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash has resigned from Sesame Street in the wake of a new allegation that he had sex with an underaged youth.
A lawsuit filed on Tuesday in federal court in New York accuses Clash of 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.
In a statement on 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.
Clash's exit followed a tumultuous week that began on November 12 with a statement from the company that Clash had requested a leave of absence following an accusation by a man in his early 20s that he had 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." Days later, the man recanted.
Clash, who had been on Sesame Street for 28 years, created the high-pitched voice and child-like persona for Elmo, a furry red Muppet that became one of the show's most popular characters and one of the company's most lucrative properties.