Can Sesame Street's Elmo Survive Ex-Puppeteer's Sex Scandal?

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The phrase "Tickle me Elmo" has taken on an entirely different and unsavory meaning. The New York Post is reporting a third man has come forth alleging former Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash had a sexual relationship with him, while the man was still a minor. The Post also published excerpts from the anonymous alleged victim's memoir. Wrote Clash's accuser:

Elmo

“When we first met I was 16 and there was no intercourse; however lots of heavy kissing and he showed me what it felt like to get on your knees and obey your man.”

"Mr Tickler is what I will call him and the game we played was father and son."



Clash, who is vehemently denying all claims of sexual abuse of minors, has resigned from Sesame Street. However, there's been plenty of speculation about the multi-million dollar Elmo brand's ability to survive such an unseemly sex scandal.

According to TimeToPlayMag.com, Elmo merchandise accounts for 50-to-75 percent of the roughly $500 million in annual retail sales for Sesame Street games, videos and apparel items. The question is, can TPTB at Sesame Street manage to successfully separate the Elmo character from a former portrayer caught up in allegations of pedophilia, or is it time to ditch Elmo and focuse on a new kid-friendly mascot? 

Photo credit: Sesame Street