NEW YORK CITY — The voice actor behind the popular Sesame Street character Elmo has quit the show after a second man has stepped forward to accuse him of having a sexual relationship with him while he was still a teen.
According to the New York Times, puppeteer Kevin Clash – who has voiced Elmo for 28 years – has resigned from the program after Cecil Singleton filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming that Clash had a sexual relationship with him when he was just 15 years old.
Singleton claims that the two met on a gay sex phone chat line in 1993. Clash was 32 years old at the time. According to court documents reported by TMZ, the accuser claims that Clash, “trolled gay telephone chat line rooms to meet and have sex with underage boys.”
In a statement on their website, Sesame Street producer Sesame Workshop says, “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 wants, 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 news comes one day after Clash’s first accuser, Sheldon Stephens, retracted his earlier recantation of claims that he and Clash had a sexual relationship when he was just 16 years old.
Stephans had settled with Clash for $125,000, but is now reportedly asking to have that settlement vacated. Singleton is seeking over $5 million in damages from Clash.