Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash took leave from the Sesame Street show after sex allegations were raised. Although millions of parents and children may have never heard his name before, Clash has been the voice of Elmo since 1985. The Sesame Street puppeteer is accused of having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old boy, according to Radar Online.
Sesame Workshop representatives allegedly stated that a 23-year-old man told them he and Kevin Clash began a sexual relationship seven years ago. The sex allegations were reportedly raised in June. A statement from Sesame Street about the claims levied against Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash reads:
“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.”
The man behind the Elmo character was reportedly granted leave from Sesame Street so he could initiate actions “to protect his reputation.” A return date was not announced. The Sesame Workshop statement about the sex allegations also noted that the popular PBS character is “bigger than any one person” and Elmo will continue to be an important part of the show’s attempt to educate and inspire children from around the world, according to the New York Daily News.
Kevin Clash allegedly admitted that he had engaged in a sexual relationship with his accuser but claims the romance was between consenting adults. The Elmo puppeteer began performing with Sesame Street characters in 1979 when he played the Cookie Monster in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.