Elmo actor Kevin Clash resigns

Elmo actor Kevin Clash resigns; new accuser files suit

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Elmo and puppeteer Kevin Clash of the film "Being Elmo" at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. (AP Photo/Victoria Will) Elmo and puppeteer Kevin Clash of the film "Being Elmo" at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. (AP Photo/Victoria Will)

 Sesame Workshop says Elmo actor Kevin Clash has resigned, calling allegations he had sex with under-aged youth a "distraction."

A man had accused Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash of having sex with him when he was a teen but later recanted.  The man, who has not identified himself, later said his sexual relationship with Clash was adult and consensual.

But, a lawsuit was being filed in federal court in New York on Tuesday 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.

The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $5 million.

Sesame Workshop released a statement saying:  "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 education 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."

Clash created the voice and persona for Elmo, who has become one of "Sesame Street's" most popular characters.

In addition to his marquee role as Elmo, Clash had served as the show's senior Muppet coordinator and Muppet captain. He won 23 daytime Emmy awards and one prime-time Emmy.

In 2006, he published an autobiography, "My Life as a Furry Red Monster," and was the subject of the 2011 documentary "Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey."

Though it remained unclear who might take over for Clash performing as Elmo, other "Sesame Street" puppeteers have been trained to serve as his stand-in, Sesame Workshop said.

"Elmo is bigger than any one person," they said last week.

MyFoxNY/AP

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