A widening sex scandal has pushed Kevin Clash to resign as the puppeteer and voice of Sesame Street's Elmo.

The 52-year-old Clash has been the voice of an animated Elmo since 1984.

Last week, celebrity website TMZ.com reported claims by Sheldon Stephens that he and Clash had a sexual relationship when Stephens, now 24, was 16 years old. The following day, Stephens recanted his story.

But on Tuesday, TMZ.com reported that a second man has stepped forward to claim Clash initiated a relationship with him when he was 15. The man is suing Clash for $5 million.

“Sesame Workshop's mission is to harness the educational power of media to help all children the world over reach their highest potential,” the company said in a statement. “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.”

Elmo will be played by understudies trained by Clash.