Elmo Puppeteer Kevin Clash resigned Tuesday under pressure from another young man claiming to have been involved in an intimate relationship with Clash while he was underage. Cecil Singleton, 24, made his accusations against Clash public on Tuesday, saying that he had a two week affair with Clash at the age of 15. Along with the allegations, Singleton is seeking $5 million in damages in a newly filed lawsuit.
“[There was] groping, masturbation, and just a lot of intense kissing, touching, that kind of thing. Dry humping,” Singleton said, according to E! Online. “But we did not have sex and it’s imperative to note that. We did not have sexual intercourse until years later when I was an adult.”
“I just remember telling myself that he seemed to really like me and let me spare him now because I know that I can’t do this,” he added. “If I had to make an educated guess and say if we had stayed together we more than likely would have had sex at that age.”
The lawsuit filed in New York’s federal court used much harsher language in describing Clash however, identifying the Sesame Street puppeteer as “an unmarried adult male living a prominent public life centered around the entertainment of toddlers, while at the same time he was, in secret, preying on teenage boys to satisfy his depraved sexual interests.”
Clash had previously been granted a leave of absence by Sesame Workshop, the group responsible for the long-running children’s program, but accepted Clash’s resignation via a statement. “the controversy surrounding Kevin’s personal life has become a distraction that none of us want,” the statement read.
“This is a sad day for Sesame Street.”
After 28-years as the voice of one of the program’s most recognizable characters, Clash’s career in youth entertainment is over. Elmo will still be featured on Sesame Street, though no formal replacement has been named. As Sesame Workshop stated last week, “Elmo is bigger than any one person.”