52-year-old Kevin Clash, a longtime puppeteer and the voice behind Elmo, has taken a leave of absence from the popular children’s show amid allegations he had a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old boy.
The accuser, now 23-years-old, contacted Sesame Street lawyers to alert them of the developing situation. Clash admitted that he had a relationship with the man, but only after the accuser was an adult and said the accusations were both false and defamatory. “I had a relationship with [the accuser]. It was between two consenting adults and I am deeply saddened that he is trying to make it into something it was not,” said Mr. Clash, who joined Sesame Street in the mid-80s.
Now being represented by Andreozzi and Associates, the accuser is working with the firm that worked with one of the victims in the Jerry Sandusky child rape case.
While it is unclear why Mr. Clash wanted a leave of absence, TMZ reports that evidence was asked of the accuser by Sesame Street, but was not received. The company disciplined Mr. Clash for inappropriate use of company email after they initially found correspondence between him and the accuser, but they did not indicate an illegal sexual relationship, according to TMZ.
Officially the Sesame Workshop confirms that Elmo, the puppet, will continue to be an impact on the show, saying, “Elmo is bigger than any one person and will continue to be an integral part of Sesame Street to engage, educate and inspire children around the world.”