Just after the (very welcome) news that Kevin Clash‘s accuser had recanted his statement about the Elmo puppeteer having an illegal relationship with an underage boy, another accuser has stepped forward.
According to TMZ, the accuser’s name is Cecil Singleton. Singleton says that Clash “trolled gay telephone chat line rooms to meet and have sex with underage boys,” which is where he claims he met Clash, then 32, as a 15-year-old in 2003. This is Singleton’s photo, provided by his attorney to TMZ:
In the lawsuit Singleton filed in a NY federal court, he claims that Clash “did not become aware that he had suffered adverse psychological and emotional effects from Kevin Clash’s sexual acts and conduct until 2012” and that while Sesame Street featured Clash, he was “preying on teenage boys to satisfy his depraved sexual interests.”
Singleton is seeking $5 million in damages. As to why he didn’t come forward sooner, Singleton’s suit says it’s because he “did not become aware that he had suffered adverse psychological and emotional effects from Kevin Clash’s sexual acts and conduct until 2012.”
Amid all of the controversy, Clash decided–or was forced, who knows–to step down from his role as Elmo. Sesame Street released the following 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.
I don’t know how to feel about this; on the one hand (possible puppet joke), I want to remain unbiased until facts come out and more is revealed. On the other hand, I’m just really saddened by how this may affect Sesame Street. Elmo will continue on as a character, of course, as he is a separate entity from Clash. But as Time writer James Poniewozik points out, Elmo and Sesame Street may suffer in the face of the controversy, whether it’s from people who will criticize the producers or parents who want to keep the image of the puppet from tainting their children.
If this accuser recants, as well, that would be both relieving and disturbing. But since there are reports that Clash actually settled with the first accuser, this whole case could go a number of ways. I only hope that Elmo and the other beloved characters don’t take the heat.