Hasbro is standing behind Elmo.
In the wake of the resignation of the popular Sesame Street character's puppeteer, Kevin Clash, amid multiple allegations of sex with minors, the toy manufacturing giant tells The Hollywood Reporter that they will continue to make and back products based on the squeaky-voiced creature.
"Sesame Street and its wonderful characters have been entertaining and educating children and families for more than 40 years," says Wayne Charness, senior vice president of corporate communications at Hasbro. "We are confident that Elmo will remain an integral part of Sesame Street and that Sesame Street toys will continue to delight children for years to come."
The controversy comes at an inopportune moment for the company, just weeks after introducing its latest Elmo product -- the LOL Elmo -- in anticipation of the holiday shopping season. The toy, priced at $39.99, giggles and convulses gleefully, and is a direct descendant of Tyco's Tickle Me Elmo, which caused toy store riots in the Christmas of 1996.
It joins Hasbro's extensive line of Elmo-branded merchandise, featuring everything from alphabet blocks for toddlers to toy cell phones and electric guitars geared towards older children.
Clash, a 52-year-old veteran of Sesame Workshop and the subject of the critically acclaimed 2011 documentary Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey, said in a statement to THR that he leaves the show after 28 years "with a very heavy heart."
"Personal matters have diverted attention away from the important work Sesame Street is doing and I cannot allow it to go on any longer," Clash added.