Los Angeles, CA, United States (4E) – Kevin Clash, the voice behind the universally known Sesame Street character, Elmo, has denied allegations that he had an underage relationship with a boy and is taking a leave of absence from the show in order to safeguard his reputation.
In a statement released by Sesame Workshop’s website Monday, the organization is said to have received a message from an unidentified man that claimed he had a relationship with the Clash when he was only 16.
Sesame did not take matter lightly, saying, “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.”
“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,” the statement continued.
Meanwhile, Clash, in a statement to ABC News, said, “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.”
He continued, “I am taking a break from Sesame Workshop to deal with this false and defamatory allegation.”
Sesame Workshop, however, assured the public that all is well, saying, “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.”