elmo kevin clashJust when you thought things might be getting back to normal on Sesame Street and Kevin Clash would soon be returning to voice Elmo, the scandal has taken a turn for the absolute worst. Little more than a week after settling matters with a 23-year-old man who initially claimed he had a sexual relationship with Clash when he was 16, Clash has had to face accusations from a second man who says the entertainer initiated a relationship with him 20 years ago, when the man was 15. The second man sued him for $5 million, claiming he had only recently become aware of "adverse psychological and emotional effects." As a result, the puppeteer is officially resigning from Sesame Street.

Sesame Workshop released a statement today, explaining (almost) exactly why both parties reached this decision ...

It reads:

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.

And in a statement of his own, Clash noted:

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.

Wow ... Well, whether one or both men came forward in an attempt to capitalize on Clash's wealth and fame or there is concrete truth to their accusations, no one wanted to see Clash have to walk away from Sesame Street. Especially not in this way, on account of the fact that this very personal mess is "distracting" from the show's squeaky-clean rep. But given the circumstances, it really does look like Clash and Sesame had no choice but to part ways at this point.  

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Although Elmo will now be played by understudies Clash himself trained, I'm guessing it just won't be the same. Clash -- and by extension, Elmo -- have been a staple of the show for almost three decades and has become a living legend. To think that all of that could potentially be squashed based on these accusations alone is nothing short of deeply disappointing.

How do you feel about Clash's resignation?


Image via Astrid Stawiarz/Getty