(New York, NY) The puppeteer who provided the voice of Elmo on “Sesame Street” for nearly three decades has resigned following a controversy in which a man allegedly made – and then recanted – accusations that the puppeteer engaged in underage romantic relationship with him, the show announced Tuesday.
Kevin Clash, 52, had been the show’s Elmo puppeteer and voice for 28 years.
“Unfortunately, the controversy surrounding Kevin’s personal life has become a distraction that none of us wants, and he has concluded that he can no longer be effective in his job and has resigned from Sesame Street,” Sesame Workshop said in a statement. “This is a sad day for Sesame Street.”
Earlier this month, Clash went on personal leave to fight what he said were false and defamatory allegations that he and the other man had started a relationship when the other man was 16.
Sesame Workshop said that in June, the 23-year-old accuser alleged that he had started a relationship with Clash as a teenager. The workshop announced last week that a thorough investigation found “the allegation of underage conduct to be unsubstantiated.”
Also last week, a law firm saying it represented the 23-year-old released a statement saying he “wants it to be known that his sexual relationship with Mr. Clash was an adult consensual relationship.”
In a statement last week, Clash lash acknowledged a relationship between “two consenting adults,” but said the man otherwise had been making a “false and defamatory allegation.”
“I am a gay man,” Clash said in a statement issued November 12. “I have never been ashamed of this or tried to hide it, but felt it was a personal and private matter.
“I had a relationship with the accuser. 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.”