Though it was just one week ago today that it seemed that Elmo’s troubles were over, voice of Elmo Kevin Clash resigned today. Clash had been accused of statutory rape by a former lover who is now 23, but the Sesame Workshop said that the allegations were unfounded. Last Tuesday Clash’s accuser recanted, and his lawyer said that what took place between the two men was an “adult consensual relationship.”
However, the controversy came back to life Saturday when TMZ reported that Clash had paid his accuser a settlement of $125,000, with the stipulation that the accuser recant. On Monday, the accuser said he was seeking to undo the settlement, saying that he was pressured into it, according to TMZ. And now the site reports that a new lawsuit has emerged, from a new accuser who also claims to have had a relationship with Clash while he was still a minor. (The allegations have also led Clash to come out as a gay man, saying “I have never been ashamed of this or tried to hide it, but felt it was a personal and private matter.”)
Here’s the statement from the Sesame Workshop today:
Sesame Workshop’s mission is to harness the educational power of media to help all children the world over reach their highest potential. Kevin Clash has helped us achieve that mission for 28 years, and none of us, especially Kevin, want anything to divert our attention from our focus on serving as a leading educational organization. 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.
Clash has thus far denied committing any crimes, and here the Sesame Workshop cites only that the controversy has been a “distraction.” But at least one part from the Sesame Workshop’s statement was clear: “This is a sad day for Sesame Street.”