The voice behind Elmo of "Sesame Street" is hit with a sex scandal. Kevin Clash, who has been providing voice for the beloved puppet for the past 27 years, is accused of having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old boy when he was 45. Clash has taken a leave of absence from the children show but vehemently denied that he bedded an underage child.
"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 told TMZ in a statement, calling the accusations false and defamatory. Sesame Workshop honchos added, "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."
The story began when a 23-year-old man met with the lawyers of Sesame Workshop to discuss about the affair that started seven years ago. "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," Sesame Workshop's heads said. "This was a personal relationship, unrelated to the workplace. We took the allegation very seriously and took immediate action."
Investigating the matter throughly, Sesame Workshop lawyers met with the accuser several times but were accused of trying to shut him up. Andreozzi and Associates that represented the accuser said the company tried to "discredit the victim in order to protect its employee and the image of one of its most valuable characters. This approach places a greater value on a puppet than the well being of a young man."
Denying such action, Sesame Workshop officials told TMZ that they were simply asking the accuser to provide evidence to support his allegation. The accuser also never mentioned to them about an email that he received from Clash acknowledging that the affair started when he was 16. Through their investigation, they determined the allegation of underage sex was unsubstantiated.