Kevin Clash, the puppeteer who voices “Sesame Street” puppet Elmo, has taken a leave of absence from the show after allegations that he had a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old boy.
Clash has denied the accusations, and the company that makes “Sesame Street,” Sesame Workshop, has released a statement to that effect.
The accusations come from a 23-year-old man. He says that the voice actor started a relationship with him when he was only 16. The accuser has met with Sesame Workshop lawyers on two occasions as the company made its own investigations into the allegations. The company said that the lawyers found the allegations to be unsubstantiated.
Clash has admitted having an affair with his accuser but not when that man was underage. Clash said of the relationship: “It was between two consenting adults and I am deeply saddened that he is trying to make it into something it was not.”
Clash has been the voice of Elmo since 1984. That a children's TV star, albeit as a puppet, is accused of underage sex, is something that a company like Sesame Workshop cannot ignore, and this is why it is undertaking further investigations. The company said in a statement that Clash asked for and was granted leave of absence to “protect his reputation” and to fight the allegations.
Clash came out from behind the Elmo puppet last year to star in a documentary film “Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey.” In the film he talks of how from a young age he had also wanted to be a Muppet puppeteer and work on the iconic children’s shows “The Muppets” and “Sesame Street.”
Clash has also written a book, “My Life as a Furry Red Monster: What Being Elmo Has Taught Me About Life, Love and Laughing Out Loud.”
Investigations, both within Sesame Workshop and by prosecutors, are currently in process.
Sources and more on this story: