Kevin Clash – the puppeteer behind Elmo – has left behind Sesame Street. This comes after a sexual allegation that he had sex with an underage male, and though his accuser had initially recanted his story, recently the accuser has changed his story for a second time and suggests he was pressured to recant, while another person has come forward as well to suggest he too had sex with Clash while under the age of eighteen.
It seems that these allegations are too much for either Clash or Sesame Street, who issued this 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.
Where many may indict Clash for possibly being a homosexual, just as many may see him as being persecuted for being a homosexual who hoped to hide his sexuality because of that bias, or may forgive him simply because of the happiness they got out of his most famous creation, Elmo. But without the truth, without a confession or evidence, everything about this now is pure speculation. And perhaps like Michael Jackson – who some people believe was completely innocent, just as many believe he was totally guilty – it may be one of those things that lingers, but is never made concrete.
This much is certain, Sesame Street and funding for public broadcasting had a bullseye put on it by Mitt Romney during the election cycle (now, thankfully over), and it’s possible if this scandal kept going it would provide additional ammunition to shut down PBS. So this may have less to do with guilt or innocence and more to do with keeping Sesame Street going.