ABOVE PHOTO: Puppeteer Kevin Clash and Sesame Street’s Elmo
By Frazier Moore
NEW YORK — Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash has resigned from “Sesame Street” in the wake of an allegation that he had sex with an under-aged youth.
In its statement Tuesday, Sesame Workshop said “the controversy surrounding Kevin’s personal life has become a distraction that none of us want,” leading Clash to conclude “that he can no longer be effective in his job.”
“This is a sad day for Sesame Street,” the statement said.
As the announcement was made, a lawsuit was being filed in federal court in New York charging Clash with sexual abuse of a second youth. The lawsuit alleges that Cecil Singleton, then 15 and now an adult, was persuaded by Clash to meet for sexual encounters.
Clash, who had been on “Sesame Street” for 28 years, created the high-pitched voice and child-like persona for Elmo, a furry, red Muppet that became one of the most popular characters on the show and one of the company’s most lucrative properties.
Clash’s exit from Sesame Workshop followed a tumultuous week that began on Nov. 12 with a statement from the company that Clash had requested a leave of absence following the charge by a man in his early 20s that he had had a relationship with Clash when he was 16.
Clash denied the charge from that man, who has not been publicly identified, calling it “false and defamatory.” Days later the man recanted his charge.
Earlier this week, gossip site TMZ reported that Clash agreed to pay his first accuser, Sheldon Stephens, $125,000 – with one string attached – that Stephens recant his story that Clash had sex with him when he was a minor.
Originally, Stephens alleged he was only 16 when Clash began a sexual affair with him. Clash has acknowledged an affair, but insists it started when Stephens — now 23 — was an adult.
Multiple sources told TMZ … hours before Stephens recanted his underage sex allegation, a settlement was struck between the two parties. Under the terms of the settlement, Clash agreed to pay Stephens $125k. But the settlement then provides the following:
“Stephens agrees that immediately upon execution of this Agreement, his counsel, Andreozzi & Associates, P.C., shall release the [following] statement … ‘He [Stephens] wants it to be known that his sexual relationship with Mr. Clash was an adult consensual relationship.'”
The settlement document goes on to say if Stephens is asked by anyone about his relationship with Clash, he must only repeat the statement [above] in the settlement that recants his story.
TMZ learned although Stephens signed the document, he continues to insist Clash had sex with him when he was a minor and was pressured into signing the settlement.
One source privy to the negotiations told TMZ that Stephens was crying during final negotiations and repeatedly insisted he didn’t want to sign.
Clash’s lawyer was contacted for a response, but he had no comment.
Eurweb.com contributed to this article.
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