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Elmo actor Kevin Clash resigns amid sex allegation

By Frazier Moore

AP Television Writer

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 12:50 a.m. HST, Nov 21, 2012


NEW YORK » Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash has resigned from "Sesame Street" in the wake of an allegation that he had sex with an underage youth.

In its statement Tuesday, Sesame Workshop said "the controversy surrounding Kevin's personal life has become a distraction that none of us want," leading Clash to conclude "that he can no longer be effective in his job."

"This is a sad day for Sesame Street," the company said.

In a statement of his own, Clash said "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."

As the announcement was made, a lawsuit was being filed in federal court in New York charging Clash with sexual abuse of a second youth. The lawsuit alleges that Cecil Singleton, then 15 and now an adult, was persuaded by Clash to meet for sexual encounters.

The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $5 million.

Clash, who had been on "Sesame Street" for 28 years, created the high-pitched voice and child-like persona for Elmo, a furry, red Muppet that became one of the most popular characters on the show and one of the company's most lucrative properties. Sesame Workshop produces "Sesame Street" in New York.

Clash's exit followed a tumultuous week that began on Nov. 12 with a statement from the company that Clash had requested a leave of absence following the charge by a man in his early 20s that he had had a relationship with Clash when he was 16.

Clash denied the charge from that man, who has not been publicly identified, calling it "false and defamatory."

Clash, the 52-year-old divorced father of a grown daughter, acknowledged that he is gay in that statement.

Sesame Workshop, which said it was first contacted by the accuser in June, said it had launched an investigation that included meeting with the accuser twice and meeting with Clash. Its investigation found the charge of underage conduct to be unsubstantiated.

The next day Clash's accuser recanted his charge, describing his sexual relationship with Clash as adult and consensual. Clash responded that he was "relieved that this painful allegation has been put to rest."

In addition to his marquee role as Elmo, Clash had served as the show's senior Muppet coordinator and Muppet captain. He won 23 daytime Emmy awards and one prime-time Emmy.

In 2006, he published an autobiography, "My Life as a Furry Red Monster," and was the subject of the 2011 documentary "Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey."

Though it remained unclear who might take over for Clash performing as Elmo, other "Sesame Street" puppeteers have been trained to serve as his stand-in, Sesame Workshop said.

"Elmo is bigger than any one person," the company said last week.







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8082062424 wrote:
sad.
on November 20,2012 | 06:49AM
LRC wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on November 20,2012 | 06:51AM
serious wrote:
Poor judgment. But, I might add, seems as though there is a lot of poor judgment going around these days.
on November 20,2012 | 09:14AM
8082062424 wrote:
more then poor judgment. any one be it male or female gay or straight that goes after a minor for sexual encounters is not normal. more than enough adults out in the world. it sad
on November 20,2012 | 10:10AM
KekoaBradshaw wrote:
good point. The issue is sex with a minor. If Clash wanted sex, he should have found someone his own age or close to it. There wouldn't be a problem then if the sexual encounter was between two consenting adults.
on November 20,2012 | 10:17AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Maybe a million muppet march would be a good idea right now. Just leave the kids at home.
on November 20,2012 | 11:08AM
st1d wrote:
nambla's favorite series.
on November 20,2012 | 11:55AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Now, about borrowing money from China to fund Sesame Street.....gee, that doesn't sound so good any more, eh?
on November 20,2012 | 11:07AM
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