On Nov. 20, puppeteer Kevin Clash resigned from “Sesame Street.” Clash is well known among “Sesame Street” and Muppet fans for being the puppeteer for and voice of Elmo.
Clash has worked for “Sesame Street” for 28 years. He has won several Emmy Awards and is the subject of the 2011 documentary “Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey.” To many fans, Clash is as beloved figure as Elmo.
Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organization behind “Sesame Workshop,” issued the following statement.
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 wants, 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.’
The puppeteer’s resignation follows allegations Clash has had sexual relationships with underage men. Last week, TMZ report a 24-year-old man alleged Clash had engaged in a sexually inappropriate relationship with him; the man claimed has was 16 at the time. The man recanted one day later.
But the controversy didn’t die down, putting both Clash’s reputation and that of “Sesame Street” at risk.
News outlets investigated and outed the accuser, who then claimed he felt pressured to recant in exchange for $125,000. Today, TMZ reported a second man has stepped forward with a similar allegation. According to the Wall Street Journal, that man has filed a lawsuit with damages in excess of $5 million.
Clash issued his own statement with regard to his resignation, published by The New York Times:
“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.”
In response to the first man’s accusations, Sesame Workshop previously issued a statement saying they had investigated the allegation thoroughly and found the charge to be unsubstantiated. In that statement, Sesame Workshop said:
“Elmo is bigger than any one person and will continue to be an integral part of ‘Sesame Street’ to engage, educate and inspire children around the world, as it has for 40 years.”
True to that spirit, “Sesame Street, with the help of Clash, has taken steps to identify other puppeteers to help the show move forward with Elmo and the show.
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