Kevin Clash, the voice behind Sesame Street’s most popular character, has now resigned from his post after a second accuser came forward with allegations of underage sex.
The first round of claims came last week, when a 23-year old male model accused Clash of having an inappropriate relationship with him when he was just 16. Clash maintained that it was a consensual relationship and that the other party was 18 when it occurred, and the man later recanted and took a settlement from the voice actor. However, he’s now come forth to say he was badgered into taking back his story in order to put an end to the matter, and still stands by his original claims.
Now, a second accuser has made claims that Clash “groomed him to gain his trust by, among other things, taking him to nice dinners and giving him money.” He says the two met on a phone-sex chat line when he was just 15, and that Clash knew how old he was at the time. He is allegedly suing Clash for $5 million in light of last week’s scandal.
After the news of these allegations blew up in the media, Clash made a brief statement saying he considered the matter closed due to his settlement payout and wouldn’t discuss it any more. He took a leave of absence last week from Sesame Workshop, but it has been reported today that he has officially resigned, leaving parents in shock. Speculation as to what will become of Elmo’s character has been all over the web; Sesame Workshop has quite a conundrum on their hands, as Elmo is their most popular–and money-making–character. If the company chooses to continue the character with another voice actor, parents and fans who are aware of the scandal may be offended enough to stop watching. If they phase Elmo out, however, they will be losing a huge part of their identity, which could cost them big.
Sesame Workshop issued a statement about the ensuing scandal, expressing concern for the stories becoming bigger than the company.
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.