Elmo puppeteer accused of underage sexual relationship
Emmy winner Kevin Clash denies charges.
Kevin Clash, the puppeteer who has given life to Elmo on Sesame Street since 1984, has taken a leave of absence from the show amid allegations he had a sexual relationship with a teenage boy.
Clash vehemently denies the charges, made in June by a 23-year-old man who claimed to have had a sexual relationship with Clash when he was 16 years old.
Clash has admitted that he had a relationship with the young man, but insists it took place only after the accuser was an adult.
In a statement, Sesame Workshop said an investigation into the matter "found the allegation of underage conduct to be unsubstantiated."
More from Parenting: Protect your child against sexual abuse
TMZ broke the news on Monday that Sesame Workshop lawyers recently met with the accuser, who claims he and Clash began the sexual relationship seven years ago.
In light of the allegations, Clash will be taking a leave of absence from Sesame Street for the foreseeable future.
Clash, 52, has won several Emmy awards for his work as Elmo over the last 28 years and gained fame in his own right after being featured in the award-winning 2011 documentary Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey, which chronicles how he turned the little red monster into an icon for millions of kids.
The statement by Sesame Workshop reads, in full:
"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."
Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
Tell us on Facebook: What do you think about the accusations?
More from Parenting:
This is what Sesame Street is promoting to our children. How to get molested and love it.
They probably knew about this years ago and swept it under the carpet.
News, stories, tips and laughs for moms & dads
Celeb moms post photos to show off their weight loss, but then they undermine their progress in the captions.
Kriste Lewis was inspired by her kidney disease to try out
Hittin' the road, moms and dads? Plan for these five things to happen...
Who knew parenting would make you feel so dumb?
Bob King, 68, found himself stuck
Witnesses now say they were helping mom, who was on the scene
Screaming won't make things better.
Adventures, friends, and boys—all the makings of a great movie. We may be a bit too old for summer camp, but these 10 movies bring us back to those times when all that mattered was winning Capture the Flag. We can practically taste the s’mores.
With summer comes vacations, trips, and relaxed time in the backyard, all of which I'd like to capture on film - hopefully with my kids' eyes open. Here are 10 pro tips to help capture your favorite moments.
Panic gives way to calmness and all ends well
We've all been there - here's how to deal...
It's not nice to make an expectant mom cry