The man who accused the voice of Sesame Street’s “Elmo” has recanted his allegations he was the victim of an underage sexual relationship. Kevin Clash, who since 1981 has been the voice and puppeteer behind the Sesame Workshop’s Elmo, says “I am relieved that this painful allegation has been put to rest. I will not discuss it further,” according to New York Times reporter Brian Stelter.
“The accuser has remained anonymous. The recantation came in a statement via a law firm. The statement did not include an apology to Clash,” Stelter adds, via Twitter, noting his “lawyer now says it was ‘adult consensual relationship’.”
Clash, who now says he’s gay, took a leave of absence this week to defend himself against he allegations that he had a sexual relationship with his anonymous accuser — now 23 — when the accuser was 16. Clash maintained the teen was of legal age, at least 18, when their relationship began, and that it lasted for several years.
Before the accuser recanted, Clash said via a statement:
“I am a gay man. I have never been ashamed of this or tried to hide it, but felt it was a personal and private matter. I had a relationship with the accuser. It was between two consenting adults and I am deeply saddened that he is trying to characterize it as something other than what it was. I am taking a break from Sesame Workshop to deal with this false and defamatory allegation.”
Sesame Workshop also said via a statement:
“In June, the workshop heard from a 23-year-old man who claimed that he had “a relationship” with Clash beginning when he was 16 years old, the workshop said in a written statement. “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. 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 Sesame Street Workshop statement said.
“Kevin insists that the allegation of underage conduct is false and defamatory and he is taking actions to protect his reputation. We have granted him a leave of absence to do so.
“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, as it has for 40 years.”
On his Media Decoder blog at the Times, Stelter added:
Harvey Levin, the editor of TMZ, did not respond to a request for comment about its decision to run with the unproven allegations of underage sex.
Image via Wikipedia by Bill Thompson
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