Voice of Elmo on leave after denying 'underage conduct' with teen
Puppeteer Kevin Clash with the iconic Elmo at the Kennedy Center Honors in December 2011
November 12th, 2012
12:23 PM ET

Voice of Elmo on leave after denying 'underage conduct' with teen

[Update 1:55 p.m.] Kevin Clash has issued a statement saying,"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. 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."

[Posted 12:23 p.m.] The puppeteer who voices Elmo - one of the most adored children's characters in the world -  is taking time off from Sesame Street after denying he had an inappropriate relationship with a teenage boy.

Sesame Street Workshop says it found the allegation against Kevin Clash "unsubstantiated," and granted him leave as he takes "actions to protect his reputation."

In June, the workshop heard from a 23-year-old man who claimed that he had "a relationship" with Clash beginning when he was 16 years old, the workshop said in a written statement.

The statement did not use the word "sexual."

"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," the Sesame Street Workshop statement said.

"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."

A representative for Clash had no immediate comment Monday.  TMZ reported that Clash said his relationship with the accuser "was between two consenting adults and I am deeply saddened that he is trying to make it into something it was not."

A law firm reported to be representing the accuser had no immediate comment.

Last year, Clash spoke to CNN about the magic of Elmo, a "mirror image" for kids.

Clash, 52, is widely beloved as the high-pitched voice of the iconic furry red Elmo, whom he's been playing since 1984 - and won Emmy Awards along the way.

He was the third Muppeteer to take on the role.

Clash is also Sesame Street's senior Muppet coordinator and Muppet captain, the Sesame Street Workshop says on its website.

A documentary, Being Elmo, focused on his story.

Clash also once spoke with NYC Dads, an initiative of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, about how he worked to spend time with his daughter who lives with his ex-wife outside of Baltimore.

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Filed under: TV • U.S.
soundoff (354 Responses)
  1. Volntyr

    The Liberal gay rights agenda has never condoned under age relationships and you know it. The Catholic Church and Boy Scouts of America....that is another story

    November 12, 2012 at 9:17 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • R. Ben Madison

      Comments like that are why your party is dying out.

      November 12, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • gaydog

      The overwhelming majority of crimes commited in the Catholic Church invovled gay priests.

      November 12, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Suzi

      yes because abominations should only be carried out once you have some years under your belt...

      November 12, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • phearis

      My God man! I didn't know people could be that stupid and then I read your comment. Have you ever even once attempted to think for yourself?

      November 12, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • johndanger

      Which begs the question: Was Elmo involved in this perversion?

      November 12, 2012 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike Mann

      good point

      November 13, 2012 at 1:51 am | Report abuse |
    • biggerdawg

      The Catholic Church and Boy Scouts of America condone it? You're a nit wit. Stick to the topic which is an adult man boinking a teen male.

      November 13, 2012 at 4:43 am | Report abuse |
  2. Aaron

    If this guy is innocent by publishing this story isn't CNN guilty of slander?

    November 12, 2012 at 9:21 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Michael

      It's not slander to report an accusation. It would be slander if they reported he did it.

      November 12, 2012 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Spendlove

      In America you're guilty until proven innocent, just ask the GOP and Sarah Palin.

      November 12, 2012 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Aja

      A) Slander is spoken word, libel is written and/or published.
      B) They are not accusing him of anything, they're making statements about company policy and the fact that he's on leave. No libel here.

      November 12, 2012 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
    • James

      I'll bet Bert & Ernie set him up!

      November 12, 2012 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  3. Baseballngolfisallineed

    Yeah! And if ....wait, what?

    November 12, 2012 at 9:29 am | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Mike

    The PBS agenda is not what hard working, tax paying Americans believe in.

    November 12, 2012 at 9:29 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • lollin'

      oh, word?

      November 12, 2012 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
    • dcase20

      The PBS agenda? You're not insanely ate up or anything.

      November 12, 2012 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Gus

      Hard-working Americans are against education, love and friendship?

      November 12, 2012 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
    • t3chsupport

      You're absolutely right. The American people have no interest in education in any way, shape, or form.

      November 12, 2012 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
  5. Tom

    How does Elmo play into this?

    November 12, 2012 at 9:31 am | Report abuse | Reply
  6. j.b.

    Slander is a spoken accusation. Libel is printed.

    November 12, 2012 at 9:33 am | Report abuse | Reply
  7. John Spurlock

    Funny how CNN buried this story way back in the blogs...

    I'm sure glad President Obama made a point of supporting Sesamie Street in his re-election campaign...

    Maybe he'll come on in support of NAMBLA next?

    November 12, 2012 at 9:33 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Michael

      You obviously disagree with this concept, but in this country, people are innocent until PROVEN guilty. We all know that jilted lovers have done incredibly mean-spirited things in the past, and this could have been a case of him wanting to hit Clash where it hurts most. I wonder, if the accuser recants his story and Clash is proven innocent, are you going to apologize for your BS?

      November 12, 2012 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
    • TheTraveler

      Get over it John. You lost.

      November 12, 2012 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Loratio

      Your nonsensical post (Sesame Street = NAMBLA??) makes us rational Romney supporters look bad. Please don't post here anymore

      November 12, 2012 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Austin

      Clearly this is an attempt to get Obama re-elected.

      November 12, 2012 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Gus

      Loratio – I was not a Romney supporter, but I have supported Republicans in the past. I just want to say "thank you" for being sensible and standing up against the right wing nut jobs. If they ever get their act together and stop using hate and ignorance as their basis of their platform, I would consider voting Republican again, if I believe in the candidate. As it stands now, I just vote against the nut jobs. I'm happy to hear a voice of reason from a conservative.

      November 12, 2012 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
    • James PDX

      Maybe Obama will come in and support NAMBLA. After all, he's already shown a willingness to step on the feet of the Catholic church.

      November 12, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • @Gus

      " I was not a Romney supporter,"

      Yeah, we have heard this a lot lately.

      November 12, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • CosmicC

      @James – your post is contradictory. If Obama stepped on the toes of the Catholic church, by inference he is AGAINST NAMBLA.

      November 13, 2012 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      James, Catholic Church and NAMBLA are on the same side....

      November 13, 2012 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      Catholic Church and NAMBLA have their hands in each others pockets if ya know what I mean....

      November 13, 2012 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
    • ensense

      Rob the gay agenda is quite similar to NAMBLA. both claim that it is natural for humans to do the business up the wrong end. don't get me wrong, i am not gays doing what they do. but i am against the claim that is it natural. evolution does not work towards species extinction. And i know you guys will spin this a lot of different way's but you know in your hearts that what i say is true.

      November 13, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Robert

    A 16 year old is NOT a child. 16 is the age of consent in most places. This whole thing is bogus. Obviously the "victim" is looking for a payout. There is only one "agenda" in play here, and that is $$$$.

    November 12, 2012 at 9:41 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rascal Rabble

      you are a sick man to believef that a 16year old is an adult...even the corrupt car insurance industry don't believe that...

      November 12, 2012 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Pastor V. Benjamin Jemison

      That is a sad day. go away Clash.

      November 12, 2012 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Gretchen

      Why should Mr. Clash "go away"? He did nothing wrong.

      November 12, 2012 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Christina

      Have you ever considered that the accuser might be lying? Not all accusers have actually been abused. Elmo and Clash are worth big bucks; even if the franchise settles, the accuser could get a pretty nice chunk of change, and as another poster pointed out, Clash, innocent or not, will have this accusation over his head for the rest of his life.

      November 12, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • CHRUIS

      So when a 16 year old kills someone they are an adult....but when they have a relationship with someone they are a child? Hmmmmmmm Sounds like a double standard to me.

      November 12, 2012 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
    • alexisvoltaire

      That's not always the case, you shouldn't be so naïve. Being tried as an adult doesn't make someone an adult.

      November 12, 2012 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Rascal, you know the driving age is set by the State, not the insurance companies, right?

      November 12, 2012 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Rascal Rabble

      you miss the point: premiums are set by the insurance companies...and 16 year olds gets the juvie rate...boo!
      ...juvie as in juvenile...really Scott if you didn't date the 14 year olds as a senior in high school you would kno' this...lol

      November 12, 2012 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
    • James PDX

      And yet many states, based on their laws of consent, would disagree with you.

      November 12, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • mr. butters

      And yet many places in the west have age of consent as low as 13. It wasn't that long ago that women were being married off at 13 and having children of their own.

      November 12, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • CosmicC

      The corrupt car insurance companies will do anything to raise rates (income), so let's leave them out of this.

      November 13, 2012 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      It isn't a matter of opinion....it is a matter of state law...in MOST states in the US, the age of consent is 16...in some, such as NY where Sesame Street is filmed, age of consent is 17...and in others, such as California, age of consent in 18...

      November 13, 2012 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Mickey1313

      It depends on the state, age of consent varies state to state. Its 18 where I'm at, basically, but I'm not sure about where this took place.

      November 13, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike K

      You are intellectually failing to understand his claim. He is not saying a 16 year old is an adult, but rather that he started the relationship with the man after he was 18 years old. You just blew it on the reading comprehension scale.

      November 13, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Edward

      I'm with you on this one. $$$$$ is what this is about.

      November 12, 2012 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Edwin

      Normally I'm not really sure, but the fact that Sesame Street came out in support of him inclines me to agree with you.

      November 12, 2012 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
    • IaMomOf4

      Sadly I find myself agreeing with you. All in the name of the mighty green back.

      November 12, 2012 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam

      Seems to be very shoddy reporting. Your article states that he was punished for violating their internet use policy. If that is the case, then your headline is intentionally misleading. Sure, he might have been put on leave chronologically after he was accused, but the wording implies he was being punished for the "relationship"

      November 12, 2012 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Rascal Rabble

      this is not mexico robert...18 is considered an adult by most...

      November 12, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • I agree with you but the law does not

      60% of US states list 16 as the legal age of consent, however for ages below 18, many of them do have an 'age gap' provision, which states that if one party is susbstantially older, it may be considered a crime.

      As for right or wrong, sadly, that has less and less to do with the law these days.

      November 13, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lord Toronaga

      Not in NY. There is 4 1/2 year age difference rule. If 40 year old Kevin had $ex with a 16 year old boy.... PROBLEM.

      November 12, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      Kevin was 45 years old if this happened 7 years ago. You are right, Lord Toranaga. This behavior would come under laws that were made to keep older people from using vulnerable teens as s3x toys. This guy really should know better than to pursue a teenager almost 30 years younger than him. Especially working for the CHILDREN'S Television Workshop with a cast of children that spend a substantial amount of time growing up on the set, & interacting with "Elmo". I wonder if his accuser was one of the kids on the set? That would truly be inappropriate, since that show gets public funding as an "educational" program that teaches children.

      November 13, 2012 at 1:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Kobayashi Maru

      you sound like a pedophile. 16 is not consenting.

      November 12, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • SkiOne

      Depends on the state actually.

      November 12, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Angela

      It actually is consensual age in 16 states with no age limit to the older person and in another 16 with a close in age exemption.

      November 12, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • notasmartoneareya

      It is in states like michigan. But I agree, there's no place for a 50 year old man and a 16 year old. Revolting.

      November 12, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anomic Office Drone

      Not that I approve of such relationships, but 16 is consenting in many US states.

      November 13, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • place57

      So, you would be ok with a 45 year old man fondling your 16 year old son?

      November 12, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • bejip

      oh that is SOOO much worse than a 46 year old man with your 17 year old son! 17 is age of consent in New York where Kevin lives...

      November 12, 2012 at 11:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pat

      I would hope my 16 year old son would have a mind of his own at that age therefore it is strickly up to him and does not matter if I like it or not.

      November 13, 2012 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
    • josh rogen

      another case where the democratic party controlled press withheld info that might embarrass the government in wake of the pro big bird message they were pushing during the election

      November 12, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ben Rast

      You really think there's a conspiracy here? A conspiracy to protect a cast member on Sesame Street from allegations of a relationship that may or may not have begun before the legal age of consent? A conspiracy to protect PBS, which gets more than 60% of its funding from private donors, because the Democrats are just so attached to throwing money at anyone and anything that they'd refuse for one of those programs to look bad? Are you psychotic?

      November 12, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Seriously

      Seriously?! Another pathetic sore loser that has to blame everything on anyone but him/herself. You are the reason that the the Republican party keeps losing. Wake up!

      November 13, 2012 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Mjplatt

      LMAO!!!
      Careful, some people on here will believe you......

      November 14, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • jacketface

      actually the "victim" is defending him.

      November 12, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cameron Arrasmith

      You going to jail now!!!

      November 13, 2012 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Ih8MTV

      WARNING: Don't let your 16 year old visit Roberts house

      November 12, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • lek

      NOt sure where you live

      November 12, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • rh

      A 16 year old is a minor. The age of consent takes into account relationships between teenagers. 16 years old is not consenting in most states if the other person is over 21.

      November 12, 2012 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • William

      Yep. You notice that this was all treated as an internal workplace issue by the Workshop.

      November 13, 2012 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
    • C. E.

      The ones that aren't include Texas (Texas has a "Romeo and Juliet" exception for hetero couples close in age) which sets it at 17, and California which sets it at 18 for everyone (so two 17 year olds doing it are breaking the law, and may only expect a lesser sentence due to age disparity)

      November 13, 2012 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
    • raiders4life

      agree with you robert 100%

      November 13, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • oh elmo

      Robert: And by most places, you mean no where? It's 18 practically everywhere. If they had physical relations when this kid was 16 and there is proof, this guy should be in jail. It's that simple.

      November 13, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • mrose

      In NY state, where this took place, the age of consent is 17.

      November 15, 2012 at 8:07 am | Report abuse |
  9. it doesn't matter

    I hope this is not true...Getting sick of hearing about sick people sleeping with boys....

    November 12, 2012 at 9:52 am | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Why do some sucessful people, that serve as role models (as shown in this thread), people of authority, people that manage, use thier "great records of accomplishments" like a credit cards so they can "buy' thier way into graff and corruption and run around with the idea the law does not apply to them, then think thier works are some how going magicaly "buy" thier way out?

    November 12, 2012 at 10:03 am | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Guilt by association runs rampant in areas of society. I sure hope Oscar in the garbage can isn't a perp also.

    November 12, 2012 at 10:07 am | Report abuse | Reply
  12. DAT

    Assuming it isn't true, I hope he sues the accuser to the point the guy spends the rest of his life paying off the judgement.

    November 12, 2012 at 10:18 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • ensense

      Wow. How come when it come's to a gay dude, the victim is the problem.

      November 13, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Gus

    I can't help but wonder why conservatives are against Sesame Street.
    What do they fear? Education? Friendship?
    What is it about Sesame Street that frightens conservatives?

    November 12, 2012 at 10:28 am | Report abuse | Reply
  14. dave

    Where are the millions PBS has made off merchandising their charactors?

    November 12, 2012 at 10:32 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Steven B.

      PBS does not own those characters.

      You have no idea how television works?

      November 12, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • place57

      Actually SteveB, PBS earns almost $170 million from sesame street royalty and toy sales.

      November 12, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    You don't know who your dealing with. You never know who's watching.

    November 12, 2012 at 10:34 am | Report abuse | Reply
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