(NEW YORK) — Kevin Clash, the voice of Sesame Street‘s Elmo, has resigned from the show following another allegation of an inappropriate sexual relationship.
In a statement released to ABC News, Sesame Workshop said, in part, “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.”
Clash said in a statement to ABC News, “I am resigning from Sesame Workshop with a very heavy heart. 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.”
A 23-year-old man had initially accused Clash of having a sexual relationship when he was a minor, but then recanted that allegation. The incident led to Clash coming out as a gay man, which he had not spoken about publicly before.
But TMZ reported on Tuesday that a second man, now in his ’30s, has filed a $5 million lawsuit against the puppeteer, claiming that he’d had a relationship with Clash when he was 15 and Clash was 32. The accuser says though these events happened 20 years ago, he “did not become aware that he had suffered adverse psychological and emotional effects from Kevin Clash’s sexual acts and conduct until 2012.”
According to the New York Times, Clash’s resignation will likely not affect production on Sesame Street, as he had already been helping to line up other puppeteers who would be able to play Elmo while he was on a leave of absence from the show.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Kait Richmond, CNN
Nikki Siegel, Idaho Falls Magazine
Brian Stelter, CNN