The puppeteer behind Elmo is taking a leave of absence from “Sesame Street” after denying allegations that he had an inappropriate relationship with an underage boy.
The Sesame Street Workshop has released a statement saying that they found the claims against Kevin Clash to be “unsubstantiated,” but did find that Clash “exercised poor judgment and violated company policy regarding internet usage.”
The Workshop said they received a communication from a then 23 year old man who alleged that he had a relationship beginning when he was 16 years old with Clash:
“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.”
Clash reportedly told gossip site 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.”
The Workshop statement says that Elmo isn’t going anywhere: “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.”