The puppeteer, who has been the voice and puppeteer of Elmo for more than 25 years, has resigned from Sesame Street, following allegations that he engaged in an underage sexual relationship. Clash had earlier taken a leave of absence from the show.
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.
Clash’s accuser had earlier recanted his accusation, but not long after that he recanted the recantation, claiming he was pressured.
Clash’s departure almost certainly does not mean the end of the Elmo character, which is a major cash cow for the Sesame brand. There is much precedent for Muppet characters continuing past the departures of their original puppeteers; Kermit the Frog, Ernie and several other characters created and originated by Jim Henson continued to be performed following Henson’s death in 1990.