Kevin Clash, the puppeteer who has been voicing Elmo on “Sesame Street” since 1985, is officially on a leave of absence from the show for an indeterminate period. His decision stems from allegations he maintained inappropriate relations with a minor boy.
Sesame Workshop confirms Clash’s departure from the show, noting that, no matter who voices Elmo, he will remain a part of the show, Radar Online informs.
According to the victim, who has been talking to the press about the alleged inappropriate relationship that reportedly lasted quite some time, it began when he was still a minor – 16, to be more exact.
The victim is now 23 years old and, for some reason, has decided to speak out on the abuse, thus exposing Clash to the world.
The Sesame Workshop says, through a spokesperson, that no evidence has been found to sustain these claims. Moreover, Clash maintains his innocence.
“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 official statement says.
Nevertheless, Clash WAS out of line by embarking on a relationship with a minor.
“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 same statement further notes.
Clash’s request for a leave of absence has been granted.
The Sesame Workshop insists his departure will not affect Elmo the character in any way.
“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,” the statement notes.
As noted above, Clash is denying all the claims and stresses that whatever relationship he had with the young man posing as a victim today was consensual and, more importantly, between adults.