Kevin Clash, the voice of Elmo, has resigned from Sesame Street after accusations were made (and later dismissed) that he had an inappropriate relationship with an underage male.
Sesame's Workshop released a statement regarding Clash's departure, reading: "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 also released a statement that reads: "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."
Earlier this month, a 20-something man claimed he had sexual relations with Clash, 52, when he was just 16, but later retracted his allegations of abuse. Via his lawyer, Clash's accuser recanted his statements this past Tuesday, telling the Times that his past relationship with the puppeteer was in fact, an "adult consensual" one.
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"I had a relationship with the accuser," the puppeteer said in a statement. "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."
Prior to his resignation, Clash announced a leave of absence from Sesame Workshop. According to the production company, Clash had been helping to fill the role of Elmo for some time, and those puppeteers have been filling in for him since this past Monday.