And then Elmo quit. Boy, if there’s a balloon of him in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade it’s going to be awkward. Well, this is pretty miserable. We reported a week or so back on the sexual abuse allegations made against Kevin Clash, the puppeteer who gave Sesame Street‘s Elmo his distinctive personality. Since then, a lot has come up in the case.
The accuser, who has been identified as Sheldon Stephens (pictured here) recanted his allegations on TKTK, saying that although he met Clash when he was sixteen, the pair did not begin their sexual relationship until Stephens was 18, making it legal. We all breathed a sigh of relief, happy that our short national nightmare was over.
Until it wasn’t. Stephens reversed course on his recantation today, saying that he wants to give back the $125,000 settlement. And, on the same day, another man stepped forward with a $5 million lawsuit against Clash, claiming that the puppeteer had sex with him when he was just 15 years old. As a result, Clash has turned his temporary sabbatical from Sesame Street into a full-blown quitting, stepping away from the company where he’d spent the majority of his adult life.
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 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.”
It’s a sad day for everyone, really.