Amid two recent allegations of sex abuse, Sesame Street's longtime puppeteer Kevin Clash, 52, most famous for being the voice behind popular puppet Elmo, as well as characters Baby Sinclair, Clifford, Splinter and Hoots the Owl, has resigned from the children's program.

"I am resigning from Sesame Workshop with a very heavy heart," Clash wrote in a statement on Tuesday. "I have loved every day of my 28 years working for this exceptional organization. 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."

Last week a 24-year-old man accused Clash of having a relationship with him when he was underage, which Clash firmly denied, defending the relationship as a consensual one among adults and responding, "I am deeply saddened that he is trying to characterize it as something other than what it was. I am taking a break from Sesame Workshop to deal with this false and defamatory allegation," Clash told People.

The man later recanted the accusation, maintaining that his relationship with Clash was an adult one, and Sesame Workshop also defended the claims as unfounded, reports the New York Times.

Now that a second man, Cecil Singleton, has emerged with claims that Clash engaged in sexual relations with him when he was underage, Clash has resigned, and the Sesame Workshop, at which he also served as a co-executive producer, has issued a statement saying, "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."

Clash, who had not come out as gay prior to the first accusation, addressed his sexuality in light of the new scandal. "I have never been ashamed of this or tried to hide it," he said, "but felt it was a personal and private matter."

Clash was featured in last year's documentary, Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey.

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