Allegations of sex with underage boys and reports of under the table payoffs have left Sesame Street puppeteer Kevin Clash without a J-O-B.
Clash — the voice behind beloved furry muppet Elmo since 1984 — resigned his role on the children’s television classic on Tuesday, in the wake of recent reports that he had a sexual relationship with aspiring model Sheldon Stephens that began seven years ago, when the man was just 16. Clash, 52, admitted that he romanced Smith, but he insisted the relationship began after his 18th birthday.
Stephens, now 23, eventually recanted the claim — allegedly, with a little needling from a $125,000 cash settlement. But on Tuesday, TMZ reported that a second accuser, Cecil Singleton, has filed a lawsuit in New York alleging that he also had an underage sexual relationship with Clash nearly 20 years ago.
Singleton, now in his thirties, says he met Clash on a gay phone chat line back in 1993. He was 15, Clash was 32. In the suit, Singleton claims:
“[Clash] trolled gay telephone chat line rooms to meet and have sex with underage boys.”
Singleton says he didn’t take action against Clash until now because he “did not become aware that he had suffered adverse psychological and emotional effects from Kevin Clash’s sexual acts and conduct until 2012.”
He is demanding more than $5 million in damages.
The latest accusation proved the final straw for Sesame Street producers — who haven’t seen a scandal this mayjah since Katy Perry’s bustline had to be censored during a sing-a-long. In a statement released just moments ago, Sesame Workship said:
“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 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.”
Clash issued his own statement:
“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.”
Sesame Workshop is reportedly working to find a replacement for Clash.