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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soundoff (354 Responses)
  1. Coleen

    Keven Clash seems to like to be around children's programming...maybe just a wee too much. Google him.

    November 12, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Grumpster

    Never liked Elmo...never will...and this gives me great reason to think that I knew something was fishy all along. I think Elmo is the single most annoying puppet character ever....just as annoying as Barney.

    November 12, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Jim

    With all of the Sesame street bashing going on in politics, why does this whiff of a setup?

    November 12, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity-Just Stick It In"

    DavidinCorpus:
    It kinda sounds from the way your speaking, your rather jealous of Elmo and his fiery poker. Course, you hate republicans, because you think the law does not apply to "you", and we're angling for control of the tax slaves (what you said)? There is a lot of people that whine about anything, whine continually, until they are right (even if thier wrong).

    November 12, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "You Can't Fix Stupid"

    Typical liberals. They look for something a little wrong in one of the Republicans, and they think the whole party is this way.

    November 12, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • banasy©

      Really? Oh, yeah, that *must* be it ....no generalization there, right?

      November 12, 2012 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Retired Army

      Typical Liberals?

      How about 'Typical Conservatives'?

      November 12, 2012 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Kermet The Krog

    Elmo is Annoying. He turned Sesame Street into "The Elmo Show "

    November 12, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. gk

    What happened to innocent until proven guilty?

    November 12, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Babak from LA

    Gives a whole new meaning to the tickle me Elmo doll!

    November 12, 2012 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Factory_Worker_Who_Needs_A_Job

      Now it's called 'LOL Elmo'

      I'm not making that up.

      November 12, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
  9. obama 2012

    He was 50, the kid was 15... there was nothing wrong with this what so ever. Let them work it out and be happy.

    November 12, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • joe

      I agree, let love be love. Age has no boundaries.

      November 12, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      Yeah, high school kids need middle aged men to break them in.

      November 13, 2012 at 2:53 am | Report abuse |
  10. Ih8MTV

    Just because he's been sticking his hand up Elmo's bottom for a more than two decades, doesn't mean he's a child predator. Oh wait, how old is Elmo?

    November 12, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "You Can't Fix Stupid"

    Looks like Elmo and Loraina Bobbit would get along "just fine".

    November 12, 2012 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Coleen

    This story was suppressed till after the election...just like Patraeus. What's next ?

    November 12, 2012 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. billny

    Just one more thing announced by the left after the election.

    November 12, 2012 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Rob - Ohio

    Wow, how do you explain that one to your kids!

    November 12, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. obamaplace

    It's pretty obvious he did it... you don't "take a break" from a ridiculously high paying job unless you are forced to, and doing so makes him appear 50 times as guilty which is quite to the contrary of the reason he is giving. If he had nothing to hide he would have denied it, and just gone on with his life. After all, they can't charge him with a crime he hasn't committed.

    November 12, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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