Elmo Puppeteer Kevin Clash Resigns from 'Sesame Street'

After being accused of having a sexual relationship with a minor, Clash will no longer be the voice of the lovable Muppet

Kevin Clash, the man who's voiced Elmo on Sesame Street since 1982, has resigned from the children's television series. This news comes after a man sued Clash for allegedly starting up a sexual relationship while the accuser was still underage.

"Sesame Workshop’s mission is to harness the educational power of media to help all children the world over reach their highest potential," Sesame Workshop says in a statement. "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.

The statement continues, "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. "

The 52-year-old actor had already taken a leave of absence from Sesame Street starting on Nov. 12 after a man named Sheldon Stephens claimed that he and Clash entered into a sexual relationship when Stephens was only 16. Clash denied the claim and Stephens has since recanted his statement.

However, it has since been reported that Stephens only did so because Clash convinced him with a $125,000 settlement, and that Stephens actually stands by his claim. Add that to the fact a new man named Cecil Singleton has come forth and said that Clash also entered into a sexual relationship with him when Singleton was only 15, and this whole scandal seemed to be too much for Sesame Workshop or Clash to handle.

Clash has not released a new statement about his resignation. Following last week's leave of absence, he said, "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. 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. I am taking a break from Sesame Workshop to deal with this false and defamatory allegation."

Elmo will now be voiced by understudies trained by Clash.

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