This has been a whirlwind of a story, full of accusations and denials and recantations and recantations of those recantations — all within the span of a week. The scandal seems to have finally come to an end, with Kevin Clash’s resignation from Sesame Street yesterday. Here’s how we got there:
1960: Clash is born in Baltimore; his puppetry obsession begins early, and his parents claim that he’d created more than 80 puppets by the time he was a teenager.
1984: Clash begins working at Sesame Street, voicing such characters as Hoots the Owl and Dr. Nobel Price — but it’s his work with Elmo that really gets him attention.
1990s: Clash voices that incredibly annoying baby dinosaur on the sitcom Dinosaurs (“not the mama!”).
2011: Clash is featured in the documentary Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey, in which his Sesame Street cast members speak very highly of him.
November 12, 2012: Via his lawyers, Sheldon Stephens publicly accuses Clash of having a sexual relationship with him when Stephens was 16; the age of consent in New York is 17. Clash acknowledges that he is gay and that he had a relationship with Stephens (who is currently 23), but denies the charges of underage sex. The Sesame Workshop announces that it’s been investigating the accusations but found them unsubstantiated. Clash takes a leave of absence from the show anyway.
November 13: Stephens recants his accusation, announcing (again, via his lawyers) that “he wants it to be known that his sexual relationship with Mr. Clash was an adult consensual relationship. He will have no further comment on the matter.”
November 19: Stephans recants his recantation, claiming that he received a $125,000 settlement from Clash and that he was pressured into accepting the offer.
November 20: Another man, Cecil Singleton, claimed an underage sexual relationship with Clash and announced pans to sue for $5 million. Clash resigns from Sesame Workshop. The show released a statement about the incident: “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.”
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