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. JustMe

    Did you read the article? He's saying (the accuser) that he was NOT underage when it happened. That he was legally an adult, and he made up the part about him being 16 when it happened.

    November 14, 2012 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
  2. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    There's too much of this kind of lying going on which creates expensive law enforcement involvement at taxpayers expense. Here in Texas, just recently a 15 year old girl claimed she was kidnapped when she got off the bus, lawenforcement reacted, later found girl was lying. There have been so many cases in Texas like this and it's time action is taken against these accusers, make them pay or spend time behind bars.

    November 14, 2012 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |
  3. TK

    As usual it is to late the media has already ran with the adult molesting a child story so now when people look at Elmo they will think pedophile simply because the media could not wait to publish such a scandalous story instead of waiting for the full story to emerge!

    November 14, 2012 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
    • James PDX

      If one news agency doesn't run it, some others will. Even if none run it, the public will get wind of it and it will hit social media, only with less facts and more assumptions. The idea that the news agencies shouldn't release the news when they discover it is absurd.

      November 14, 2012 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
  4. Donnie the Lion

    When you make that kind of claim against a public figure, you better have some PROOF or corroborating testimony from someone else.

    November 14, 2012 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
  5. Donnie the Lion

    "the fact he was 16" .... based on what? An angry guy with two possible age-old motivations 1) revenge 2) greed. You automatically believe him??????

    November 14, 2012 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
  6. sumthin fishy

    What is it with men who play with puppets for a living? Never a happy ending. Really?

    November 14, 2012 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Jomm

      Really? Give me a break.

      November 14, 2012 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
  7. Whateva

    I feel bad for Elmo. How many hands have been inside him.

    November 14, 2012 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
  8. David 8

    "It's unclear why the accuser suddenly changed his story ... but sources close to the situation tell TMZ ... the accuser's attorney had been meeting with Clash's attorney as recent as an hour ago, discussing a financial settlement and 6-figures were on the table." -TMZ

    November 14, 2012 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Jomm

      When people take settlements when they said a crime was commited towards them, I think they have falsely accused the person (you can have someone locked up and still get money so to avoid locking the person up seem like the person is lying and want money. I would want justice first, money later). I can understand Elmo creator settling because he will pay more in court and alot of people are riding on his success.

      November 14, 2012 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
    • David 8

      Or Clash is guilty and the accuser needs the money more than he needs closure. I think 52 yo Clash showed very poor judgement "dating" a very young man considering he works for many children's programming companies. Shows an unhealthy attraction to the young.

      November 14, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. dotheflippin'math

    " … but sources close to the situation tell TMZ … " TMZ will publish anything, even if it's complete hearsay and total BS. There are no charges. Both men admitted it was a consensual adult relationship. Sorry, but there is no case.

    November 14, 2012 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
  10. kelly

    if my memory is correct,i think i read something about a settlement on tmz. i agree with double ll, i think the 23 year old was paid off to change his story and restore the clean image of elmo

    November 14, 2012 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Alphamary

      I think you're correct. The timing is all too convenient. Gotta protect the image, right?

      November 14, 2012 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob58

      If that were true they would have paid him off early on BEFORE it was in News and becoming a lawsuit.

      November 14, 2012 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • anonymousperson12

      That makes sense.

      November 14, 2012 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      Its ELMO-GATE, or ELMO-GEDDON 😉

      November 14, 2012 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
    • denouemen

      Right–the idiot brats at TMZ are a reliable source of the truth!

      November 14, 2012 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • conrad

      Nah, just a spurned lover – this is how some young people handle rejection. Retaliation and revenge.

      November 14, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  11. Michael

    It's obvious that the accuser simply wanted to out Clash due to some sort of lover's quarrel.

    November 14, 2012 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
  12. strangeronfire

    or did he....?

    November 14, 2012 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
  13. Don Ottawa

    Read the story. He was NOT 16 but an adult! Everybody was ready to judge this man, but now his accuer recants and nobody notices

    November 14, 2012 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
  14. Sara

    But in the meantime you ruined a man's reputation. How can he ever recover from that?

    November 14, 2012 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
  15. HELP

    Elmo will never be the same 🙁

    November 14, 2012 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
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