Kevin Clash: The voice of Elmo takes 'Sesame Street' leave of absence after sex with a minor allegations
Elmo might be a family-friendly "Sesame Street" character, but the man who voices him has gotten himself into a bit of trouble. A 23-year-old man is claiming that he and Kevin Clash, the voice of Elmo since 1982, engaged in a sexual relationship seven years ago while the man was still underage. Clash is now taking a leave of absence from the Sesame Street Workshop in order to defend himself from these allegations.
"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," a "Sesame Street" rep tells TMZ.
For his part, Clash doesn't deny that he had sex with the man, but rather that it happened while he was 16. "I had a relationship with [the accuser]. It was between two consenting adults and I am deeply saddened that he is trying to make it into something it was not," Clash says to TMZ, adding that the accusations are false and defamatory.
The Sesame Street Workshop reportedly received a communication from the man in question back in June that claimed he and Clash had engaged in illegal sexual activities. The tryst was unrelated to "Sesame Street" and was what the TV show's rep calls a "personal relationship." "We took the allegation very seriously and took immediate action," the rep says.
The accuser, however, didn't think it was immediate enough. He allegedly felt that Sesame Workshop's lawyers were "trying to muzzle him" so he hired the same lawyers who represented one of the victims in the Jerry Sandusky trial, Andreozzi and Associates. Clash has taken a leave of absence to defend himself from these claims, though TMZ notes it's not quite clear why he's doing that if he is denying the underage sex allegations.
"Kevin insists that these allegations are false and defamatory and he has taken actions to protect his reputation. We have granted him a leave of absence to do so," "Sesame Street" high-ups say.