To put it lightly, Sesame Street puppeteer Kevin Clash has had a rough month. Last week, he took a leave of absence from the long-running PBS children's show after he was accused of engaging in a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old boy. Although the original accuser has since recanted his allegations, a second man has now come forward with similar claims. As a result, Clash has resigned from Sesame Workshop.
The voice behind the beloved furry red puppet named Elmo, Clash was forcibly outed as a homosexual when the original allegations surfaced from a 24-year-old man named Sheldon Stephens, who professed that he and Clash had intimate encounters when he was only 16 years old. While the 52-year-old Sesame Street veteran admitted that he had a relationship with Stephens, he said that it occurred when Stephens was of legal age. An investigation launched by Sesame Workshop found no impropriety on the part of the puppeteer, and the law firm representing Stephens clarified that it was indeed "an adult consensual relationship" after a settlement was reached. Case closed, right? Not so fast.
Today, a 24-year-old man named Cecil Singleton has come forward with a similar story that he met Clash on a gay phone chat line in 2003 and had a sexual relationship with him. Accusing Clash of trolling gay chat lines for sex with underage boys, Singleton claims that the older man groomed him and gained his trust by giving him money and treating him to lavish dinners. According to TMZ, Singleton is only going public now because he "did not become aware that he had suffered adverse psychological and emotional effects from Kevin Clash's sexual acts and conduct until 2012." He is suing for more than $5 million.
In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Clash announced that he would be "resigning from Sesame Workshop with a very heavy heart." Clearly dismayed to be leaving the job that defined his life up to this point, Clash said, "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."
Hmm. I was willing to give Clash the benefit of the doubt when the original story broke, but as they say, where there's smoke there's probably a fire. I never liked Elmo anyway.