10:18am PT by Erin Carlson
Kevin Clash 'Deeply Sorry' to Leave Sesame Street
Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash is speaking out on his resignation from Sesame Workshop amid underage sex allegations.
"I am resigning from Sesame Workshop with a very heavy heart," the 52-year-old Sesame Street veteran said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.
"I have loved every day of my 28 years working for this exceptional organization. Personal matters have diverted attention away from the important work Sesame Street is doing and I cannot allow it to go on any longer. I am deeply sorry to be leaving and am looking forward to resolving these personal matters privately."
Earlier Tuesday, Sesame Workshop released a statement of its own, saying: "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."
Last week, Clash -- who's voiced Elmo since 1985 and was the subject of the acclaimed 2012 documentary Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey -- made headlines when a 24-year-old man amed Sheldon Stephens claimed to have had a sexual relationship with Clash when he was 16. Clash announced a leave of absence from Sesame Workshop, and Stephens later recanted his accusations.
But now, a second man has come forward to accuse Clash of having sex with him while he was underage. Cecil Singleton filed a lawsuit in which he alleges that he met Clash on a gay phone line in the 1990s, when he was 15; he is suing for $5 million. According to TMZ, he's going public now because "did not become aware that he had suffered adverse psychological and emotional effects from Kevin Clash's sexual acts and conduct until 2012."