Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash has been cleared of all sexual abuse charges. U.S. District Judge Christopher Conner has dismissed the last of four cases, which date back to 2012. A total of four men accused Clash of abusing them while they were under the age of 18. Although he vehemently denied the charges, Clash was eventually forced to resign from his position as Sesame Street puppeteer.
While he performed with many puppets, Kevin Clash will always be remembered as the voice of Elmo. Although the beloved puppet debuted in 1979, Clash became the primary puppeteer in 1984. With his distinct voice and personality, the infamous puppeteer truly brought Elmo to life.
Throughout his 35-year career, Clash was credited in numerous television series, including Captain Kangaroo, Dinosaurs, and The Great Space Coaster. His film credits include Labryinth, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and numerous Muppet movies.
As discussed in his biography, My Life as a Furry Red Monster, Clash designed his first puppet at the age of ten. By the time he reached high school, the talented young puppeteer had designed nearly 90 puppets.
As reported by Sesame Street, Clash was discovered by world famous puppeteer Kermit Love in 1979. By 1984, he was employed as “an official ‘Sesame Street’ puppeteer.”
Kevin Clash enjoyed a long and successful career as the Elmo puppeteer. However, everything changed in November 2012. Within a period of months, three young men accused Clash of sexually abuse. All three said they were underage when they were assaulted by the puppeteer.
Although Kevin Clash admitted to having a relationship with at least one of the men, he contends the sexual contact was consensual. He continued to deny abusing the men. However, he was eventually forced to resign due to the negative publicity.
In 2013, a New York judge determined that the first three cases exceeded the statute of limitations. Therefore, the charges were dismissed. As reported by The Huffington Post, the fourth case was dismissed for similar reasons.
A spokesman for the former Elmo puppeteer said Clash is relieved that he was cleared of all charges:
“We believe we are finally at the point as a team where we can begin to turn our full attention to restoring Kevin’s personal and professional reputation over the coming weeks and months so he may regain his rightful place as an accomplished and respected artist.”
Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash has faced some harsh criticism for the allegations. As the character was developed to appeal to children, charges of child sexual abuse are specifically damning. Despite the adversity, Clash said he is ready to move on and reinvent his career.
[Image via Crains New York]