The Sesame Street puppeteer behind Elmo, who handles the beloved children’s Muppet character Elmo’s and acts as its voice, has taken a leave of absence after being accused of having a sexual relations with an underage male teen.
The Hollywood Reporter revealed on Monday that Kevin Clash, 52 — the man behind Elmo’s voice and character actions was accused of sexual misconduct with a 16-year-old teen in June 2012. The accuser, now 23-years-old, claims the incident happened 7 years ago.
Clash is adamantly denying sexual misconduct however. While Clash admits he had a relationship with the man, he denies it happened while the accuser was below the age of consent.
Clash told TMZ 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.”
Seasme Street Workshop is currently supporting Clash in a statement they released on Monday which states that their initial investigation “found the allegation of underage conduct to be unsubstantiated”.
The Sesame Street Workshop claims the leave of absence was Clash’s choice so that he could dedicate more time to clearing his name. Clash is now accusing the accuser of defamation.
The Sesame Street Workshop also claims that their investigation only revealed that “Kevin exercised poor judgement and violated company policy regarding internet usage and he was disciplined.”