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. betterdays

    I agree. The blame rests squarely with George Bush... and a YouTube Sesame Street video that was in extremely poor taste.

    November 14, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Carl

      It LOOKS like Bush is to blame for this, but he's probably just a stooge for Dick Cheney's evil plot (code-named "open sesame"). After all, Cheney is the one who likes to hunt birds... and he doesn't care about human collateral damage, does he?

      November 14, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jp

    I see NAMBLA members are out in full force today.

    November 14, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  3. P0lar

    The worst part about this whole thing is that some unknown turd lies and tries to ruin someone else's hard-earned reputation, trying to get money... then admits he's lying, and everyone thinks it's over. It's NOT... the damage to Clash is done already. There should be more focus on prosecuting someone bringing false and defamatory statements, and it shouldn't be on Clash and his lawyers to follow up and sue. Stuff like this should be investigated and prosecuted by the police, with real jail time available for this jerk.

    November 14, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Rob

    This story is disgusting. Jim Henson who died of AIDS would also be disgusted.

    November 14, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  5. helicohunter

    The man now says he was an adult during the relationship. Are you willing to condemn all middle aged men who have relationships with younger women, or is it only gays who aren't allowed to do this? It was a relationship between consenting adults that is nobody's business. He deserves to get his life back, but sanctimonious SOBs will likely prevent that.

    November 14, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jolene K.

      Don't you get it ??? Clash is involved in children's programming. He should not be dating kids. It's a short trip to a 15 year olds from 17/18 year olds. Let's see if anyone else comes forward.

      November 14, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. veda starr

    tickle me elmo paid him off to sht up!! just saying!!

    November 14, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  7. smartaz

    Everyone knows Bert is the creepy pedophile.

    November 14, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • donmontalvo

      But that means Ernie is....no...nooo...NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

      November 14, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • cookie monster

      it's the cookie monster we have to watch out for since he shows no self control.

      November 14, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. ma & pa

    our 1:27pm comment clearly defined the meaning of 'they' in our 1:33pm comment. deletion of definition further muddles the subject.

    November 14, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Somebody

    Not that I'm surprised, but this whole thing is extremely disappointing. Great, the guy of consenting age, yet the "relationship" began when he was a teen and there is a twenty some odd year difference in their ages. I definately wouldn't want my kids around this guy.

    November 14, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      My parents were 23 years apart, i am 21 my mother is 42 and was 21 when she had me and my dad is 65 he was 40 when my parents meet. Age is nothing but a number and to assume someone is a bad person simply because they fall in love with somone younger is absured.

      November 15, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Gary S.

    This accuser should be sued for this nonsense.

    November 14, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Linda Madame-Woody

    Elmo is a puppet. That's it nothing more. He's not Romanian. Like Sandra said earlier, this is not a conspiracy. <-– new word there, I know, but seriously. Spread em & FWD: to 5 !

    November 14, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  12. PBS wins again!

    2nd time in 2 months that we've learned you can't mess with PBS!

    November 14, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  13. entertainment value

    if the character isn't entertaining then kids won't want to watch. do you have children? I don't, but I am also not clueless...

    November 14, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  14. guest

    because Elmo represents a 4 year old, not an adult. Do you know of any 4 year olds who use adult style grammar?????

    November 14, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Tanya

    Clash should sue.

    November 14, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
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