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. Brgfly

    DON,T tickle me Elmo!

    November 12, 2012 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Dave254

    Wanna write about politics? Then go to theopinionist dot ORG and let us know what your writing is made of!
    You may make some money from it!

    November 12, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. sybaris

    This will not end well

    November 12, 2012 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Sandeep Singh

    Clash will never be allowed to work on the Sesame Street set or Elmo again.

    I like how they waited until after the election to come out with this, those pics of Elmo with Obama and Michelle and "testifying" in front of congress might have hurt Obamas chances.

    November 13, 2012 at 12:48 am | Report abuse |
    • alan

      Why wouldn't he be able to work on SS again? Deviant behavior isn't a disqualifier for any liberal outfit. They'd consider his employment an outreach to diversity.

      November 13, 2012 at 7:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Mrs Time

      How would that have hurt the President's chances? It wouldn't.

      November 13, 2012 at 7:49 am | Report abuse |
  5. Guest

    Tickle me Elmo! Dude is a creeper.

    November 13, 2012 at 12:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Frank White

      why do you say he is creep ?

      November 13, 2012 at 4:29 am | Report abuse |
    • KJM

      Because he's 52 and the acuser is 23..... That would be like me getting with one of my dads friends. Which is all cool- if you're into that. Im just saying, it'd have to be one hot 52 year old in order for me to have a relationship with them.

      November 13, 2012 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
  6. Joe

    There's only one way to find out....

    November 13, 2012 at 12:53 am | Report abuse |
  7. Look n Click

    I wonder, what Cookie Monster has to say about this?

    November 13, 2012 at 1:12 am | Report abuse |
  8. GuyzaF Ucker

    50 y.o. twink

    November 13, 2012 at 1:12 am | Report abuse |
  9. jorgen

    I have the most messed joke which is the best joke in universe. Please stop pretending to be that it is a stupid joke

    "A nightmare on Elmo Street"

    Ok that was it. I feel better.

    November 13, 2012 at 1:34 am | Report abuse |
  10. B

    This is just ridiculous. I don't agree with being gay. but this story sounds bogus, The Big Bird thing with the president... and now this??? Leave the Children out of this political stuff. and quit picking on there imagination.

    November 13, 2012 at 2:02 am | Report abuse |
  11. Bill

    So Elmo's gay......who would have guessed??

    November 13, 2012 at 6:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Nena

      Elmo's not – the voice of the character is. Get over it.

      November 13, 2012 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
  12. smitvict

    Accusing someone of something that supposedly happened 7 years ago. With this type of charge, facts don't count, only that the charge was made against this guy. Sad.

    November 13, 2012 at 6:50 am | Report abuse |
  13. Lindy500

    Our tax dollars at work..

    November 13, 2012 at 6:52 am | Report abuse |
  14. larry5

    If he's still drawing a paycheck then his punishment so far is a paid vacation. What's not to like.

    November 13, 2012 at 6:54 am | Report abuse |
  15. blahblah

    Romney went after the wrong muppet.

    November 13, 2012 at 7:34 am | Report abuse |
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