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.

Post by:
Filed under: TV • U.S.
soundoff (354 Responses)
  1. Yvonne

    And they think the American people should fund them? So they can prey on more minors?

    November 12, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Simon

    I think he looks just like Patrick. What do y'all think?

    November 12, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Shelly

    It's about time Elmo came out of the closet.

    November 12, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark Thomas

      Now please, Elmo, get back in the closet and keep quiet.

      November 12, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity-Just Stick It In"

    banasy:
    "your favorite little goper....right".

    November 12, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Willow

    First the BBC, now Sesame Street. Interesting timing on this one.

    November 12, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. mimi

    OMG! He is not 16, he is 23 now. He is a consenting adult. Why is it hard to read the full article correctly. Some of you want to tsee what YOU want to see. Again the accuser is now 23 a consenting adult.

    November 12, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hillary

      Try reading the article again....
      "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."

      November 12, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Ben Rast

    Are republicans really so paranoid about any and all government spending that they think democrats are leaning on CNN to under promote a story, a story with little substantiated information, just because Obama stood up for PBS in a debate? Or is just the tinfoil hat section of the party that shows up on CNN?

    By the way, the federal government provides less than 25% of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's annual budget. The vast majority of their budget comes from private donations.

    November 12, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • NAMBLA

      We support PBS 100%. Can we sample the children please ?

      November 12, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • DavidinCorpus

      I am only here because Fox has all of its' blogs shut down. I can still come to CNN and read the blogs on interesting stories since Fox no longer allows blogging. I never come to CNN anymore unless I want to read some nasty comments pertaining to a story.
      First time I have been on this site in two weeks. I check drudge, fox, jpost, american thinker, and a few others daily, and often during the day and NO I am not a tea party, republican, or democrat. I despise all your devisive political parties, none of them are American to me, just a bunch of fascists angling for control of the tax slaves.

      November 12, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Fei Longer

    Wait a minute...does this mean Elmo is 16?

    November 12, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Brenda

    Many kids I went to high school with were having 'relations'. I guess they're all in therapy now.

    November 12, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  10. woodie

    Another Sandusky in the making. This reflects poorly on the gay community too.

    November 12, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kristen

      Why would this look bad on the gay community? Because it's an older man with a younger man? So do all these teachers who sleep with 15 year old students look bad on the straight community? Think before you speak, please.

      November 13, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  11. mr. butters

    While it's already obvious that innocent until proven guilty has gone out the window. I think regardless of the outcome this man may never be able to continue working at sesame street again. Due to the nature of his work, I just don't see it happening.

    November 12, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. cpc65

    Don't Tickle Me Elmo

    November 12, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. loreee

    Yes, because there are no 52 year old men that are attracted to teenage girls.

    This is not gay or straight issue, Hillary.

    November 12, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. N

    My gut feeling is that the ages are a fabrication, and it's elmo that's accusing him.

    November 12, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • DavidinCorpus

      He has had his hand up that puppets rump for quite a many year indeed.

      November 12, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Red Pison

    Brings a whole new meaning to "Tickle Me Elmo"

    November 12, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13