Sesame puppeteer behind Elmo resigns, sex claims 'distraction'
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.