Kevin Clash, the voice and puppeteer behind Elmo on Sesame Street, has resigned.
On the heels of a second set of sex abuse accusations, reported by TMZ.com, Seasame Workshop issued this statement Tuesday:
“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 education organisation. 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,” they said Tuesday. “This is a sad day for Sesame Street.”
Last week, Clash, 52, was granted a leave of absence from the children’s programme amid the accusation from an unidentified male that Clash had sex with him when he was underage.
Clash maintained that the relationship with the accuser was between two consenting adults. “I am deeply saddened that he is trying to characterise it as something other than what it was. I am taking a break from Sesame Workshop to deal with this false and defamatory allegation,” he told PEOPLE in a statement via his rep.
The accuser later recanted the claim after issuing a statement via Andreozzi & Associates, the law firm representing him, saying he “wants it to be known that his sexual relationship with Mr. Clash was an adult consensual relationship.”
At that time, Clash told PEOPLE in a statement through his rep: “I am relieved that this painful allegation has been put to rest. I will not discuss it further.”
Clash was the subject of Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey, a 2011 documentary that profiled his career at Sesame Street.