Kevin Clash, the puppeteer behind the “Sesame Street” character Elmo, resigned on Tuesday following new allegations that he had sex with an underage boy, adding to an ongoing controversy involving one of America’s most popular children’s brands.
The announcement came just a week after another man recanted his claims that Clash, 52, had sex with him when he was 16 years old.
“Unfortunately, the controversy surrounding Kevin’s personal life has become a distraction that none of us wants, and he has concluded that he can no longer be effective in his job and has resigned from Sesame Street,” New York-based Sesame Workshop, the company behind the show, said in a statement.
“This is a sad day for Sesame Street,” it added.
In response to an advertisement released on the Internet by the Obama for America campaign, Sesame Workshop released the following statement today:
“Sesame Workshop is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization and we do not endorse candidates or participate in political campaigns. We have approved no campaign ads, and as is our general practice, have requested that the ad be taken down.”
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A man, dressed as the Muppet character Elmo, is arrested in New York’s Times Square September 18, 2012. The arrest took place after a loud verbal exchange between the man and tourists, witnesses said. The police at the scene did not give a reason for the arrest. [REUTERS/Adrees Latif]
In 2003, it transpired that US intelligence services had tortured detainees at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib with music from Sesame Street.
Human rights researcher Thomas Keenan explains: “Prisoners were forced to put on headphones. They were attached to chairs, headphones were attached to their heads, and they were left alone just with the music for very long periods of time. Sometimes hours, even days on end, listening to repeated loud music.”
“The music was so loud,” says Moazzam Begg, a former detainee at Guantanamo Bay and Bagram. “And it was probably some of the worst torture that they faced.”
Stunned by this abuse of his work, Christopher Cerf was motivated to find out more about how it could happen.
AL JAZEERA: Sesame Street music used at Guantanamo
[Photo: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton]