Puppeteer Kevin Clash, who plays the beloved Elmo character on “Sesame Street,” has resigned in the wake of an allegation that he had sex with an underage youth, bringing an end to a 28-year career in which he turned the furry red monster into one of the most beloved — and lucrative — characters on TV and in toy stores.
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 company said.
The popular children’s show also added, “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.”
In a statement of his own, Clash said “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.”
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 child-like 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 had had a relationship with Clash when he was 16.
Though 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,” the company said last week.
—The Associated Press.
It’s sad that this man’s career was ruined for money. If he had nothing nobody would even try to sue, but Elmo is so big, that it rivals Big Bird in the same show, so it’s no wonder these shady characters would want monetary compensation in the millions.