Kevin Clash, the puppeteer who voiced Sesame Street character Elmo, resigned from the show on Tuesday, as the show blamed the allegations of sexual abuse that developed against him this month.
According to The New York Times, Sesame Workshop, the show’s production company, credited Clash’s contribution to the show over his 28-year run with the company.
“None of us, especially Kevin, want anything to divert our attention from our focus on serving as a leading educational organization,” the statement said. “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.”
Earlier this month, Clash was accused of starting a sexual relationship in 2005 with a 16-year-old boy, an accusation that was later recanted. But on Tuesday morning, TMZ also reported that a second accuser, Cecil Singleton, also sued Clash for engaging in an statutory relationship with him after the two met on a gay phone-sex line.
However, last week, The Smoking Gun reported identified Clash’s first accuser as 23-year-old Sheldon Stephens, citing a family member and a friend of Clash’s. The website also reported that Stephens, a “struggling” model, actor and self-styled entrepreneur, had a habit of attracting “high-powered men” and was once arrested for stealing $250,000 in jewelry from an employer at knifepoint.