Explaining Elmo puppeteer sex abuse allegations to children

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Another round of shocking sex abuse allegations against longtime Elmo puppeteer, Kevin Clash, 52.

A week after a 23-year-old Harrisburg man claimed that he had a sexual relationship with Clash when he was just 16, a second accuser has come forward with a lawsuit.

Clash has resigned from Sesame Workshop, issuing this statement in part:

“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.”

Tuesday, Cecil Singleton, 24, went public with allegations that he met Clash for sexual acts when he was 15 and Clash was 43.

“Many of you, I`m sure, may question my motive for waiting a near decade before coming forward,” Singleton said at a news conference in New York City. “But the truth is, in retrospect, it has occurred to me as an adult how truly inappropriate my relationship with Kevin was.”

Jennifer Storm, executive director of the Dauphin County Victim/Witness Assistance Program, said it isn’t unusual for victims to wait years to come forward.

“I think a lot of people come forward later in life because they finally then realize, ‘Oh my god, what happened to me was abuse, and that wasn`t okay.’ When you`re a young person, you don`t know,” she said.

Storm said it’s so important for parents to have a discussion with their children about sex abuse, so they can identify it and report it immediately.

“If you have an older child who is obviously on TMZ or looking on the news and seeing this, I think it`s a perfect educational opportunity to talk with them about the prevalence of sexual violence and what consent is,” Storm said. “When it can be given and when it cannot.”

As for very young children who know and love Elmo, Storm said they do not need to know the details of the allegations surrounding Clash, but parents should discuss appropriate and inappropriate touching.

“There`s never an early enough age to start talking about good touch, bad touch, age appropriate sexual awareness,” she said.

Singleton is suing Clash for $5 million in damages. Jeff Herman, Singleton’s attorney, said he has already been contacted by two other potential victims.

Clash’s first accuser is now saying he only recanted his story because of pressure to keep quiet and accept a settlement, which he now regrets doing.

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