Kevin Clash, the man behind the voice of one of Sesame Street's most iconic characters, is battling accusations of underage sex with a teen boy. He has temporarily left the show, leaving room for all sorts of salacious rumors and suspicions.
The accuser, who is now 23, claims that Clash had sex with him when he was just 16 and has hired a legal team famous for representing one of Jerry Sandusky's victims. Clash, however, insists that the boy was of legal age and that it was a "relationship between two consenting adults".
"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," he said.
Obviously, the accusations leveled against Clash are extremely serious, and Sesame Workshop says they are taking actions to ensure the protection of their employee, but the accuser says they are doing more to protect Elmo's good name than they are to protect a victim of sexual abuse. The company issued a statement about the allegations and have allowed Clash to take a leave of absence.
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. This was a personal relationship, unrelated to the workplace. We took the allegation very seriously and took immediate action....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.
*UPDATE* The accuser and alleged victim has recanted his story, saying that he was indeed of age and was a consenting adult when he and Clash had a relationship. Reports say a settlement is being worked out in the lawsuit, and Clash says he's done talking about it.
"I am relieved that this painful allegation has been put to rest. I will not discuss it further," he said.