[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.
This is awful all teh children my grandkis lve EWlmo and all Sesame street Characters.I have watched it so many times in one day I could hate it but I never did. Maybe Romney was right about funding some programs.I am however not going to take a Right Wing shot at this it is too SAD Besides one rotten Apple in the Barrel should not ruin a wonderful Childrens Program SO how about i the rest of YOU...This is not teh placyfor nasty so called funny stuff , For once Leave George Bush out of it. Since you all forgave Bill Clinton so easily for worse. Of coures I exclude those who are WITHOUT SIN !!
I know your trying to say something. Not sure what. YOu might want to learn to spell. Take some classes.
if kevin clash did sleep with a 16 year old boy that is very sad. my niece loves elmo and should not have to be subjected to hearing the voice of a pervert,they should let another man be the voice of elmo
I've always been more of a Cookie Monster fan. Never cared for Elmo. I found him rather annoying.
Just the new normal...embrace it.Time to lower the age of consent for males to be 12 like many other enlightened third world countries
Who grows up to work on a childrens show anyway? What do you really expect?
You make no sense....
Why Elmo why why why.
He is a stupid man&now he just screwed his job.
Well, at least it's not BIG BIRD. LOL
What do you expect look where his hand has been for years. Tickle me Elmo????
Yeah, and Boyscout Leaders and Priests never do either. Now move along troll.
So are organized sports, the Boy Scouts and the Catholic Church.....what's your point?
Is Elmo a Communist?
What will come out next after the election.
marry me "Elmo" !
Inappropiate ... leaves a lot of leeway for ones activity, how does one define?
Whose image is of the most concern?
Elmo of course, he represents hundreds of millions in revenues.
And as a role molder for millions of moms too busy to be role model he does a good job so they buy millions of him.
A sixteen year old child,not a young adult, is what we get when the elmos of world are our parents.
Elmo go to wrong fundraiser.
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