The man who gives voice to the famous “Sesame Street” puppet, Elmo, has taken a leave from the show to take “actions to protect his reputation” following Sesame Workshop’s investigation into the accusation that he had inappropriate relationship with a boy aged 16 years and finding that the allegation was “unsubstantiated.”
The man behind this controversy is Kevin Clash, the Emmy Award-winning puppeteer popular for his performance of Elmo on the show for the past 27 years.
It was alleged that Kevin Clash had sex with the boy seven years ago. Clash, however, denied this accusation.
According to reports, a 23-year-old man contacted Sesame Workshop in June, alleging that he and 52-year-old Clash had a relationship seven years ago and that during that time, Clash had sex with the then underage boy. Sesame Workshop reps said that they met with the anonymous accuser twice and also communicated with him on repeated occasions, but the accusation was proved wrong.
"[Sesame Workshop] conducted a thorough investigation and found the allegation of underage conduct to be unsubstantiated," the company said in a statement released on Monday, according to a report by eonline.com. "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."
The company did not reveal the nature of the transgression, so it is not clear why he was reprimanded for it. Meanwhile, it was also stated that Kevin Clash maintained that this was just a false and defamatory claim against him and he’d be taking actions to protect his reputation.
"I am a gay man. I have never been ashamed of this or tried to hide it, but felt it was a personal and private matter," Clash told E! News in a statement. "I had a relationship with the accuser. It was between two consenting adults and I am deeply saddened that he is trying to characterize it as something other than what it was. I am taking a break from Sesame Workshop to deal with this false and defamatory allegation."
So for the time being, Kevin Clash has been granted a leave of absence, but that does not mean that Elmo will be disappearing from “Sesame Street”, as someone else will be given the responsibility to take Clash’s place.