There were some pretty vile accusations being thrown around Sesame Street this morning. Kevin Clash, the man who has voiced Elmo for the last 28 years, was accused of having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old boy.
Clash, who took a leave of absence from the show, released a statement today saying that he did have a personal relationship with the accuser. According to Clash, however, that relationship was between two consenting adults.
“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. I am taking a break from Sesame Workshop to deal with this false and defamatory allegation.”
According to ABC, Sesame Workshop, the non-profit that produces Sesame Street, said that it found the claims to be “unsubstantiated” after an investigation. The non-profit did say that Clash exercised “poor judgement” but noted that the puppeteer was never charged with a crime.
The Sesame Workshop said in a statement:
“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.”
ABC reports that the accuser, who has not been named, is now 23-years-old.
Clash has won 21 Emmy Awards for his work on Sesame Street and has won the “best performer in a children’s series” as Elmo for the last four years.