Kevin Clash, the voice behind Elmo, Clifford, and Hoots the Owl has resigned from his post as Sesame Street Muppet Captain and co-executive producer.
The step down comes amid a widening sexual abuse scandal that has taken over headlines since the first accusation was made by a 23-year-old man, still anonymous, last week.
The Sesame Workshop released a statement Tuesday saying that after 28 years on the show, Clash’s leave of absence, taken Nov. 12 as a result of the allegations, has officially become permanent.
The resignation came on the same day that Cecil Singleton filed a $5 million lawsuit against Clash. Singleton alleges that he met Clash in 1993, then 32, while inside a gay chat room at the age of 15.
“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,” said the company.
Sesame Workshop disclosed that they have known about the situation since June 2012 when allegations were made known to them about an old relationship between Clash and a 16-year-old, now 23.
At that time, the company says they “conducted a thorough investigation and found the allegation of underage conduct to be unsubstantiated” after two meetings with the accuser.
“I am a gay man. I have never been ashamed of this or tried to hide it, but felt it was a personal and private matter,” said Clash, 52, in a statement via his personal representative to Reuters.
“I had a relationship with the accuser. It was between two consenting adults and I am deeply saddened that he is trying to characterize it as something other than what it was.”
The master puppeteer and Baltimore native has enjoyed international success for his work on the children’s program that began in 1969.
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