Kevin Clash, the puppeteer behind the beloved Elmo character, has taken a leave of absence from Sesame Street after allegations surfaced that he had an inappropriate relationship with a 16 year old male. Clash continues to deny any wrong doing but does admit to carrying on a consensual relationship with his accuser, now 23, when he was of legal age.
“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,” Clash said in a statement issued through a personal representative. He went on to say that: “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 it was. I am taking a break from Sesame Workshop to deal with this false and defamatory allegation.”
Clash may be leaving but Elmo will continue to appear on Sesame Street according to reps for the program.