There's trouble on Sesame Street as the actor behind Elmo has taken a leave of absence from the iconic children's show after accusations that he had a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old boy.
Kevin Clash, who provides the puppet's famous voice, has admitted that he had a relationship with the young man, now 23, but insisted it happened after he was 18, according to TMZ. The young man has met with Sesame Workshop lawyers a couple of times, but eventually hired Andreozzi and Associates — a firm that represented one of Jerry Sandusky's victims. The firm is going after Sesame Workshop for trying to stonewall Clash's accuser in order to protect Elmo's spotless reputation.
But Sesame Workshop is backing up Clash, insisting a thorough investigation of the claims produced no real evidence that a sexual relationship took place before the young man was of legal age.
Clash told TMZ, "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."
Sesame officials did say Clash has been disciplined for inappropriate use of work email to communicate with the accuser, though the exchange did not indicate he engaged in underage sex.
As for Elmo, Sesame officials said the puppet, which is "bigger than any one person," is not joining Clash on the leave of absence and will continue to appear on the show.