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Kevin Clash, Voice of Sesame Street's Elmo, Resigns After Second Man Comes Forward with Underage Sex Allegations
Sesame Street Workshop has announced the resignation of Kevin Clash, voice of the Elmo muppet:
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. This is a sad day for Sesame Street.
The statement appears to be a response to new allegations from a second accuser.
The accuser -- who is now in his 30s -- has filed a lawsuit against Clash ... claiming the two met on a gay phone chat line back in 1993 ... when the accuser was 15 years old and Clash was 32. In the suit, the accuser reveals his name -- Cecil Singleton.
Among the allegations, Singleton claims, "[Clash] trolled gay telephone chat line rooms to meet and have sex with underage boys."
In the lawsuit, filed in federal court in NYC, Singleton claims Clash "groomed [the accuser] to gain his trust by, among other things, taking him to nice dinners and giving him money." Singleton claims while Clash was featured on "Sesame Street," he was "preying on teenage boys to satisfy his depraved sexual interests."
Earlier this week, Clash's first accuser Sheldon Stephens, said he was pressured into a settlement and wanted to recant his recantation, saying he didn't lie.
The man accusing Kevin Clash, the voice of Sesame Street's Elmo, of inappropriate sexual contact when he was 16, has recanted those allegations, TMZ reports:
The accuser's lawyer just released a statement saying, "[The accuser] wants it to be known that his sexual relationship with Mr. Clash was an adult consensual relationship. [The accuser] will have no further comment."
It's unclear why the accuser suddenly changed his story ... but sources close to the situation tell TMZ ... the accuser's attorney had been meeting with Clash's attorney as recent as an hour ago, discussing a financial settlement and 6-figures were on the table.
Said Clash in a statement: "I am relieved that this painful allegation has been put to rest. I will not discuss it further."
Kevin Clash, the voice of Sesame Street's Elmo for the past 28 years, has taken a leave of absence amid accusations he had an inappropriate relationship with an underage teen when the teen was 16 and Clash was 45.
In June, the workshop heard from a 23-year-old man who claimed that he had "a relationship" with Clash beginning when he was 16 years old, the workshop said in a written statement.
The statement did not use the word "sexual."
"We took the allegation very seriously and took immediate action. We met with the accuser twice and had repeated communications with him. We met with Kevin, who denied the accusation. We also conducted a thorough investigation and found the allegation of underage conduct to be unsubstantiated. Although this was a personal relationship unrelated to the workplace, our investigation did reveal that Kevin exercised poor judgment and violated company policy regarding internet usage and he was disciplined," the Sesame Street Workshop statement said.
"Kevin insists that the allegation of underage conduct is false and defamatory and he is taking actions to protect his reputation. We have granted him a leave of absence to do so.
"I am a gay man. 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. I am taking a break from Sesame Workshop to deal with this false and defamatory allegation."
TMZ also reports on an email exchange between Clash and his accuser:
In the email -- sent well after the accuser turned 18 -- Clash writes, "I'm sorry that I keep talking about sex with you, its driving me insane." He adds, "I want you to know that I love you and I will never hurt you. I'm here to protect you and make sure your dreams come true."
Clash continued, "I'll have my assistant book a ticket for you to come to NY and we can talk about this in person."
As we previously reported, Clash has acknowledged having a sexual relationship with the accuser but insists it only took place AFTER the accuser was an adult.
"Sesame Workshop is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization and we do not endorse candidates or participate in political campaigns. We have approved no campaign ads, and as is our general practice, have requested that the ad be taken down."
Jon Stewart suggests the "empty-headed puppets" on the right come up with their own version of Sesame Street. Call it Patriot Street.
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