Elmo Puppeteer Resigns from Sesame Street After Sex-Abuse Allegations

Kevin Clash, the puppeteer who has long played childlike red monster Elmo on the kids’ show Sesame Street, has decided to leave the program after having been seemingly exonerated on claims of sex with a minor.

The New York Times quotes a statement from the Sesame Workshop, which produces the PBS series:

“…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.”

Mr. Clash was accused of a past relationship with a minor last week by a now 24-year-old man, who later recanted; TMZ reported that the accuser later attempted to go back on his recantation, offering to pay back his cash settlement in order to allege an inappropriate relationship with Mr. Clash once more.

“This is a sad day for Sesame Street,” wrote the Sesame Workshop in its statement.