November 13th, 2012
05:42 PM ET

Man says relationship with Elmo puppeteer ‘adult, consensual’

[Updated at 7:40 p.m. ET] A man who alleged he was 16 when he started a relationship with the puppeteer who provides the voice of Elmo on “Sesame Street” now says it was an “adult consensual relationship,” according to his lawyers.

The man, now 23, had told Sesame Workshop in June that he started a relationship with Kevin Clash as a teenager, according to the workshop. The workshop announced on Monday that a thorough investigation found “the allegation of underage conduct to be unsubstantiated.”

On Tuesday, a law firm saying it represented the man released a statement saying he “wants it to be known that his sexual relationship with Mr. Clash was an adult consensual relationship.”

“We will have no further comment on the matter,” the statement from Pennsylvania law firm Andreozzi & Associates said.

Clash, 52, and the Sesame Workshop responded Tuesday with statements of their own.

"I am relieved that this painful allegation has been put to rest. I will not discuss it further," Clash said in a message released by his representative.

“We are pleased that this matter has been brought to a close, and we are happy that Kevin can move on from this unfortunate episode,” the workshop said on its website.

A day earlier, both Sesame Workshop and Clash indicated the man was claiming that he was a teenager when Clash began a relationship with him. Clash acknowledged a relationship between “two consenting adults,” but said the man otherwise was making a “false and defamatory allegation.”

“I am a gay man,” Clash said in a statement issued Monday. “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.”

Both Clash and Sesame Workshop said Monday that Clash was taking a leave of absence to deal with the allegation and protect his reputation. The show told CNN on Tuesday that it had no comment on when Clash would return.

Clash is the high-pitched voice of the iconic furry red Elmo, whom he's been playing since 1984, winning 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" website says.

A documentary, "Being Elmo," focused on his story.

In an interview previously posted on the website of NYC Dads, an initiative of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, he spoke about how he worked to spend time with his daughter, who lives with his ex-wife outside Baltimore.

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Filed under: New York • Showbiz • TV
soundoff (250 Responses)
  1. pc

    Wow, so they paid him off to keep him quiet, that's smart. Too much cash on the line to risk Sesame Streets reputation with news off child molestation getting out. Bottle it up before too many people poke around.

    November 13, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tim

      You don't know what took place if anything. You've got nothing to add to the story. It's sad people like you that keep the rumor mill churning.

      November 13, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bernard Fife

    Normal relationships are becoming a thing of the past.

    November 13, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Joe Blow

    Of course it was all a lie. Everyone knows Elmo was in a monogamous relationship with Ernie during the time this was supposed to have happened.

    November 13, 2012 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Matt C

    A lot of slandering going on here. You know, you can be found out and sued, right? Pretty darn easy.

    November 13, 2012 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. k

    I wonder how much he was paid to change his accusation.

    November 13, 2012 at 11:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Steve-O

    The accuser likely had Clash confused with Michael Jackson or the Pope. A common mistake.

    November 13, 2012 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. john

    I would guess at least 1 million for the recanted accusation. Probably more.

    November 14, 2012 at 12:14 am | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Name*

    Why does the guy who voices elmo being gay make elmo gay? He's been doing the part since 1984. I assume you had no problem with elmo before now, but now its just too much?

    November 14, 2012 at 12:46 am | Report abuse | Reply
  9. ktappe

    > the fact he was 16
    In fact he wasn't. He's recanted. Take your moral indignation elsewhere.

    November 14, 2012 at 12:58 am | Report abuse | Reply
  10. fekt

    I've always loved Jim Henson and Frank Oz's work. However, I really don't like to dwell on what I always figured went on after hours..... Doesn't make me like their characters and movies and shows any less.

    November 14, 2012 at 1:14 am | Report abuse | Reply
  11. rick1948

    Now, the 23 year old needs to go to prison for a while.

    November 14, 2012 at 1:30 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Epidi

      He initially claimed to be 16 when it started. It would seem it actually began when he was at least 18. Still a teenager in my book but of legal age. However in many states 16 is also an age of consent. Sandusky went after prepubescent boys typically 10-13.

      November 14, 2012 at 4:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Ken

      Or they can both come to Maryland and get married.

      November 14, 2012 at 5:53 am | Report abuse |
  12. WorldCares

    Propaganda; trying to get monies.

    November 14, 2012 at 2:26 am | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Michael

    He was 19 when it happened, it was the notion of him being 16 he lied about

    November 14, 2012 at 2:45 am | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Johan S

    No, he retracted that part too. So it looks like the relationship did NOT start at 16 it started after age 18.

    November 14, 2012 at 3:40 am | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Terri

    The boy was not 16...he was of legal age. May be that he's mad that they're no longer involved and he wanted revenge.

    November 14, 2012 at 4:41 am | Report abuse | Reply
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