After funding for Sesame Street and Big Bird took center stage during parts of the presidential campaign, now another Sesame Street character is in the spotlight. Elmo, the famed red puppet and a children’s favorite, will be played by a new performer soon.
Kevin Clash, the puppeteer and voice of Elmo for 28 years, has resigned amidst allegations that he had sexual relationships with underage boys. The Elmo scandal broke
last week and subsequently died out, as Clash reached a $125,000 settlement with his initial accuser. But new information came to light today.
The initial accuser, Sheldon Stephens, had recanted
his allegations on condition of the settlement. But by Tuesday, he had reversed course, saying the relationship actually did occur when he was underage and that he regretted taking the settlement.
Also Tuesday, TMZ said a second accuser, Cecil Singleton, had come forward. Singleton says he met Clash when he was 15 and Clash was 32 and they had a sexual relationship.
Sesame Street released a 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 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 internet erupted during the presidential debates, when Mitt Romney said he wanted to fire Big Bird because of federal funding for PBS
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