SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

November 20, 2012

Elmo actor quits after second sex allegation

NEW YORK — Longtime Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash resigned yesterday from “Sesame Street” amid a second allegation that he sexually abused underage boys.

A lawsuit filed yesterday in New York by 24-year-old college student Cecil Singleton accuses Clash of engaging in sexual behavior with him over a two-week period while he was underage. Singleton said they met on a gay chat line.

At a news conference, Singleton said he had no idea at the time what Clash did for a living.

In its statement, 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 company said.

In a statement of his own, Clash said “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.”

Singleton’s lawyer, Jeff Herman, said he had been contacted by two other potential victims and expected additional legal action. The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $5 million.

The New York-based Sesame Workshop, which produces “Sesame Street,” had no comment on the lawsuit. Clash did not address the new allegation. He said previously that he had an adult and consensual relationship with the first accuser.

Clash, who had been on “Sesame Street” for 28 years, created the high-pitched voice and childlike 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 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.

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