HLN 'Evening Express' Anchor Ryan Smith Weighs In on Sexual Abuse Allegations Against Elmo Puppeteer Kevin Clash (VIDEO)
“A little bit of yes and a little bit of no,” said HLN Evening Express anchor Ryan Smith.
In an exclusive report for Celebuzz, Smith says he thinks Sesame Street should have acted swiftly against the 52-year-old puppeteer who was recently hit with claims from three young men who allege they were sexually involved with Clash while they were underage.
Although Clash denied the accusations, he reached a settlement to pay the first accuser $125,000 if he would recant the story. Two other accusers have since come forward, each filing suit in court, with the second accuser seeking $5 million.
Amid these new allegations, Clash resigned on Nov. 20 as the voice of Elmo -- a role he took on more than two decades ago -- and has vowed to defend himself vigorously.
Sesame Street released a statement following Clash’s resignation saying, “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.”
Whether or not Sesame Street should have fired Clash before his resignation is really just a matter of debate, but Smith said he could have responded with a faster response.
“When the second accuser came forward and gave these kinds of allegations, Kevin Clash didn’t deny it immediately.
"You’ve got a man who’s working with children every single day influencing their lives and he apparently has people coming forward talking about this kind of underage abuse. At that point, as Sesame Street, you have to let him go.
"Maybe not after the first accuser came forward and that person recanted, but after others come forward you have to act swiftly, and they did not do that, he resigned,” Smith concluded.
Ryan Smith anchors Evening Express on HLN every week night between 5-7 PM EST. For more about Evening Express, check out http://www.hlntv.com/shows/evening-express.