This is not a good look for Sesame Street. The man who voices the lovable muppet toddler, Elmo, is accused of having a physical relationship with a young boy.
Kevin Clash has been the hand inside of, and voice behind, Elmo for more than two decades, and is said to have slept with a 16-year-old boy, allegations of which he denies. Officials for Sesame Workshop— the company behind the show— met with a 23-year-old unidentified man who asserts that his relationship with Clash began seven years ago, when he was underage, while the puppeteer was 45.
Clash has acknowledged to TMZ he had a relationship with the young man -- but insists it only took place AFTER the accuser was an adult.
Sesame Workshop honchos tell TMZ ... "In June of this year, Sesame Workshop received a communication from a young man who alleged that he had a relationship with Kevin Clash beginning when he was 16-years-old. This was a personal relationship, unrelated to the workplace. We took the allegation very seriously and took immediate action."
Sesame Workshop officials acknowledge to TMZ they met with the accuser twice and had a number of other communications with him.
Sources revealed that the accuser believed that the long-running children's program was trying to brush the story under the rug, causing him to seek legal counsel. The man has hired Andreozzi & Associates, the same firm which—in an awkward turn of events—represented disgraced former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, who was found guilty of engaging in intimate activities with several young boys.
Officials are suspicious of the alleged victim because he hid the existence of an email potentially proving that he and Clash were involved while he was a teenager, but never shared the correspondence with Sesame Workshop. Instead the information was given to TMZ, but after looking into the situation, Sesame Workshop determined that the claims could not be substantiated. “Kevin insists that these allegations are false and defamatory and he has taken actions to protect his reputation,” said Sesame Workshop in a statement on their website. “We have granted him a leave of absence to do so.”
Clash has announced that he will take time away from the gig while everything gets cleared up. The Twitter page for his documentary film Being Elmo offered no comment, but posted a link to the statement released by Sesame Workshop.
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