Man who accused Elmo puppeteer of underage sex withdraws his claim
The man who claimed he had underage sex with the puppeteer behind Sesame Street character Elmo has withdrawn his claim.
The unnamed man, now 23, had claimed that Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash had a sexual relationship with him when the accuser was 16 years old, engulfing one of the biggest childhood brands in an underage sex scandal.
"He wants it to be known that his sexual relationship with Mr. Clash was an adult consensual relationship," said the law firm Andreozzi and Associates on his behalf.
Clash, 52, who had denied the allegations, said: "I am relieved that this painful allegation has been put to rest. I will not discuss it further."
Sesame Workshop said yesterday its own inquiry had concluded that the claims of underage sexual conduct against Clash were unsubstantiated.
"We are pleased that this matter has been brought to a close, and we are happy that Kevin can move on from this unfortunate episode," Sesame Workshop said today.
Clash, 52, the voice of Elmo for nearly three decades, had acknowledged a past relationship with his accuser but said yesterday the pair were both consenting adults at the time. He termed the allegations "false and defamatory".
"I am a gay man. I have never been ashamed of this or tried to hide it," Clash said, adding he was taking a break from the TV show to deal with the situation. Clash is also a divorced father of a 19-year-old daughter.
Sesame Workshop said the allegations involving Clash came to its attention in June when the accuser first contacted the company by email. A company executive said it had found "absolutely no evidence that the allegations were true."
The Elmo character debuted on "Sesame Street" in 1979. While Clash was the third performer to animate the child-like shaggy red monster, Sesame Workshop credits him with turning Elmo into the international sensation he became.