There seems to be some disturbing news coming out of Sesame Street. A 23-year-old man has stepped forward to accuse Kevin Clash, the long-time voice of Elmo, of engaging in a sexual relationship while the man was underage.
Clash, 52, has reportedly taken a leave of absence from the show to deal with the devastating allegations. While his accuser says the relationship began seven years ago when he was 16, Clash maintains their dealings took place after the accuser was an adult.
“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,” Clash told TMZ.
Sesame Workshop released the following statement to their official blog on Monday:
“In June of this year, Sesame Workshop received a communication from a then 23 year old man who alleged that he had a relationship beginning when he was 16 years old with Kevin Clash, a Sesame Workshop puppeteer who performs as Elmo.
We took the allegation very seriously and took immediate action. We met with the accuser twice and had repeated communications with him. We met with Kevin, who denied the accusation. We also conducted a thorough investigation and found the allegation of underage conduct to be unsubstantiated. Although this was a personal relationship unrelated to the workplace, our investigation did reveal that Kevin exercised poor judgment and violated company policy regarding internet usage and he was disciplined.
Kevin insists that the allegation of underage conduct is false and defamatory and he is taking actions to protect his reputation. We have granted him a leave of absence to do so.
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, as it has for 40 years.”
After feeling as though Sesame Workshop’s lawyers were trying to “muzzle” him, Clash’s accuser hired Andreozzi and Associates to represent him. Earlier this year, the firm represented one of the victims in the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal.