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Sesame puppeteer behind Elmo resigns, sex claims 'distraction'

Published on Nov 21, 2012 6:25 AM
Voice actor Kevin Clash arrives with the puppet Elmo for the 2010 Peabody Award ceremony at the Waldorf Astoria in New York in this May 17, 2010 file photo. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - The puppeteer behind the beloved "Sesame Street" character Elmo has resigned following allegations that he had sexual relationships with underage teens.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Kevin Clash said he was leaving the popular US children's television show after nearly three decades with a "heavy heart," but needed to settle the allegations against him "privately."

Sesame Workshop, which produces the show, said the controversy swirling around the 52-year-old Clash had become a "distraction" that could not be overcome, calling it "a sad day for Sesame Street."

Last week, Clash - who is openly gay - took a leave of absence from the show after a man said the pair had had sex several years ago, when the accuser was only 16 - a claim Clash firmly denied. The man later dropped the claim.

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