UPDATE: The 24 year old man who accused Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash of having sexual relations with him as a minor has recanted the allegations, the New York Times reports. Clash released the following statement via a spokeswoman:“I am relieved that this painful allegation has been put to rest. I will not discuss it further.”
Kevin Clash, the legendary voice behind one of Sesame Street's most beloved puppets, Elmo, has taken a leave of absence from Sesame Street after being accused of having sexual relations with a 16-year-old boy. Today, Sesame Street released a statement addressing the accusations:
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.
However, after feeling rattled by Sesame Street's lawyers, TMZ reports, the accuser sought representation from the Pa. law firm that represented one of the victims in the Jerry Sandusky trial, Andreozzi and Associates. In August, Andreozzi sent an email to Sesame Street saying that the company was trying to "discredit the victim in order to protect its employee and the image of one of its most valuable characters."
Meanwhile, 52-year-old Clash, who has been the voice of Elmo since 1984, has acknowledged the relationship existed but maintains that it formed after the accuser was an adult. He told TMZ, "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."
h/t Daily News