Sesame Workshop, the company behind PBS' long running educational series Sesame Street, confirmed today that 52 year-old Kevin Clash has resigned from his 28-year stint as popular Muppet Elmo. He began working for Sesame Workshop as a Muppeteer in 1982.
The news came just as a lawsuit was being filed in New York federal court this morning, accusing Kevin Clash of having sexual relations with Cecil Singleton, then fifteen and now an adult, who claims that he was persuaded by Clash to meet for private sexual encounters.
Here is the official statement from Sesame Workshop.
"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."
Cecil Singleton is the second person to come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against Kevin Clash. Earlier this month, an unidentified man claimed that Clash began having a sexual relationship with him when he was 16. Kevin Clash took a leave of absence when that news broke, with the man later recanting his initial story, saying that his relationship actually took place with Clash when he was an adult, and that it was consensual.
It is not yet known if Elmo will be retired from Sesame Street as well, as Kevin Clash is the only Muppeteer to have ever operated the very popular Muppet.