Kevin Clash, who is known as the voice of Elmo, has been accused of having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old boy, TMZ reports.
Sesame Workshop lawyers met with a 23-year-old man who alleges he and Clash began a sexual relationship when he was 16 and Clash was 45, to investigate the claims. Clash has acknowledged that he had relationship with the young man but denies that he wasn’t of age at the time.
“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,” said Sesame Workshop Big Wigs in a statement to TMZ. “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.”
The male accuser, who feels he wasn’t taken seriously, enlisted legal representation from Andreozzi and Associates, the firm that represented one of the victims in the Jerry Sandusky child rape case. Andreozzi is accusing Sesame Workshop of trying to “discredit the victim in order to protect its employee and the image of one of its most valuable characters,” adding, “This approach places a greater value on a puppet than the well-being of a young man.”
Sesame Workshop officials say their investigation didn’t turn up any evidence supporting the claims while officials also revealed their own suspicious due to other circumstances in the case.
Clash has since taken a leave of absence but maintains his innocence, calling the accusations false and defamatory.
Meanwhile, Sesame Workshop officials say Elmo is alive and well: “Elmo is bigger than any one person and will continue to be an integral part of Sesame Street to engage, educate and inspire children around the world.”