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. morningwood

    I never trusted Elmo ever since that video showing Elmo looking up Katy Perry's skirt.

    November 14, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Dave

    Clash used to be a lot more punk in the 80's. He's softened in his advancing age.

    November 14, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Whitney

    Wow people need to be real but they can't because money is their God

    November 14, 2012 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Gay in California

    I've never actually met Mr Clash and I'm not sure what he's famous for. I do however hear interesting rumors about him in our little community. For example, he likes small red-headed guys. He likes to fist them and force them to talk in high squeaky voices. I wonder what's up with that.

    November 14, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ronvan

    WELL: I have learned 3 things here. 1. Elmo has been, and will continue to be, KOOL! 2. Elmo's puppeteer is gay!, So what! 3. That the 16yr. old, now 20, appears to SUPPORT Clash!? NEXT MOVE?

    November 15, 2012 at 6:18 am | Report abuse |
  6. Michael A Ruzicho

    You see this all the time in society young people with older people. Hey if its legal what do we do? Maybe he picked up the young man with the red puppet? The young man's parents allowed this why? Because he's Elmo? He has a good job? I'm not surprised to see this. I believe school, being a child, and getting the chance enjoy one's youth is more important than children with adults or children with children.

    November 18, 2012 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Anchorite

    Kudos to the accuser for coming clean. That is not common.

    November 19, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Anchorite

    18, 19 is still pretty gross, but not illegal. As long as Clash knows where the law falls and stays on the right side of it I have no problem and it's none of my business. Let him get back to work.

    November 19, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  9. me

    So is this the 3rd person to say it was a legal relationship after saying it was illegal, or the 2nd or 1st? I read 3 guys made this claim. What made them change their mind, the fact that Clash maybe isn't as rich as they were hoping for? I have a lot of respect for Kevin and highly recommend watching Being Elmo, it's on Netflix and is VERY good!

    December 10, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
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