Kevin Clash, the puppeteer who performs as Elmo on “Sesame Street” is taking a leave of absence from the popular kids’ show in the wake of allegations that he had a relationship with a 16-year-old boy. Clash who denies the charges, which were first made in June by the alleged partner, who by then was 23.
“We took the allegation very seriously and took immediate action,” Sesame Workshop said in a statement issued Monday. “We met with the accuser twice and had repeated communications with him. We met with Kevin, who denied the accusation.”
The Sesame Street organization described the relationship between Clash and the accuser as personal and “unrelated to the workplace.” Its investigation found the allegation of underage conduct to be unsubstantiated. But it said Clash exercised “poor judgment” and was disciplined for violating company policy regarding Internet usage and they offered no details.
“I had a relationship with (the accuser),” Clash told TMZ. “It was between two consenting adults and I am deeply saddened that he is trying to make it into something it was not.”
At his request, Clash has been granted a leave of absence in order to “protect his reputation,” Sesame Workshop said. 52-year-old Clash, is the divorced father of a grown daughter and has been a puppeteer for “Sesame Street” since 1984. “Sesame Street” is currently in production, but other puppeteer’s are prepared to fill in for Clash during his absence.