Voice of “Elmo” Resigns Amid Sex Scandal
Kevin Clash has resigned as Elmo’s puppeteer, little more than a week following news of a sex scandal involving the longtime Sesame Street staple.
Clash, 52, had been accused by a Pennsylvania man of having a sexual relationship when the man was 16. Later last week, he recanted, claiming he was an adult at the time, and Sesame made plans for Clash to return to work.
But a lawsuit was filed Tuesday 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 claming “adverse psychological and emotional effects,” was persuaded by Clash to meet for sexual encounters. The lawsuit seeks more than $5 million in damages.
Sesame did not address the latest allegations in its statement.
“Sesame Workshop’s mission is to harness the educational power of media to help all children the world over reach their highest potential,” the company said. “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.”
In a statement, Clash said he had “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.”
Elmo will live on. After all, Elmo is another Sesame Street Cash Cow — like Big Bird — and will merrily go on his way to the bank.
The real questions going forward are does this start effecting the Sesame Street or Elmo brands (I doubt it, Clash has left before any real damage could be done long-term) and does any of this start leading to criminal charges against Clash himself. Time will tell on that last one.