Kevin Clash, the creative force behind the popular "Elmo" character on Sesame Street, has resigned from Sesame Workshop after more than 20 years as the beloved character. The resignation came after a roller coaster week that began with allegations that Clash had a sexual relationship with a minor and Clash took a leave of absence while the matter was under review. The accuser, now 23 years old, then recanted his allegations, only to reverse that decision and return $125,000 Clash had paid. That man, whose name has not been identified, has not filed a lawsuit.
Tuesday, a second accuser emerged, 24-year-old Cecil Singleton, who is suing Clash for $5 million in damages for having "sexual activity" when Singleton was 15. As news of the lawsuit broke, Clash announced his resignation. From The New York Times:
"Announcing the decision with what he called a "very heavy heart," Mr. Clash said in a statement, "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...."
While Mr. Clash's departure on Tuesday put some distance between the sex allegations and the iconic children's character, the claims may affect the "Sesame Street" brand in ways that remain to be seen.
Hasbro, the main toy licensee for "Sesame Street" products, said in a statement Tuesday, "We are confident that Elmo will remain an integral part of 'Sesame Street' and that 'Sesame Street' toys will continue to delight children for years to come." Macy's, in a statement, said the episode would have no bearing on "Sesame Street's" presence in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade later in the week....
"None of us, especially Kevin, want anything to divert our attention from our focus on serving as a leading educational organization," the organization said in a statement. "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.'"
The statement concluded, "This is a sad day for 'Sesame Street.' " The organization declined interview requests."