The Interwebs are abuzz today with the news that Kevin Clash, longtime puppeteer and voice of Sesame Street‘s Elmo, has resigned from the show amid underage sex allegations.
In a press release sent out today, Sesame Workshop called the scandal “a distraction.” Here’s the statement:
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.
Last week, a 24-year-old man accused Clash of having a sexual relationship with him while he was a teenager, only to recant his statement the next day. On Tuesday, a second lawsuit was reportedly filed by another individual.
Announcing the decision with what he called a “very heavy heart,” Clash said in a statement, “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.”
I had a chance to meet Kevin when he was at the Traverse City Film Festival in 2011, and he’s just the sweetest, nicest guy you’d ever meet. After the screening of Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey, he participate in a Q&A with the audience, but not before all the kids in the audience got to go down to the stage and meet Elmo personally.
After the show, Kevin and Elmo took pictures with audience members in the lobby. I don’t know how long he was there, but it must have been at least an hour. You could tell he really loved his job as the voice of Elmo, loved sharing him with both kids and adults.
I wish he didn’t have to resign. Sesame Street seems like a progressive enough show and organization that the gay factor shouldn’t play into it. The first accusation has already been recanted, and I’m guessing the second one is just to try and get some money out of him.
These are the types of things that go away when they’re found to have no basis in fact, and it’s really tough to imagine anyone else voicing the character of Elmo. Still, I can see that he wouldn’t want any of the fallout to impact Sesame Street in any way, and probably felt that resigning was the right thing to do.
What do you think? Should Kevin Clash have resigned?