Elmo Puppeteer Accused Of Underage Relationship

Associated Press,

NEW YORK (AP) — The puppeteer who performs as Elmo on "Sesame Street" is taking a leave of absence from the popular kids' show in the wake of allegations that he had a relationship with a 16-year-old boy.

Sesame Workshop said puppeteer Kevin Clash denies the charges, which were first made in June by the alleged partner, who by then was 23.

Story continues after the ad

"We took the allegation very seriously and took immediate action," Sesame Workshop said in a statement issued Monday. "We met with the accuser twice and had repeated communications with him. We met with Kevin, who denied the accusation."

The organization described the relationship as personal and "unrelated to the workplace." Its investigation found the allegation of underage conduct to be unsubstantiated. But it said Clash exercised "poor judgment" and was disciplined for violating company policy regarding Internet usage. It offered no details.

"I had a relationship with (the accuser)," Clash told TMZ. "It was between two consenting adults and I am deeply saddened that he is trying to make it into something it was not."

Sex with a person under 17 is a felony in New York if the perpetrator is at least 21. It was unclear where the relationship took place, and there is no record of any criminal charge against Clash in the state.

Brand Connections

At his request, Clash has been granted a leave of absence in order to "protect his reputation," Sesame Workshop said.

No further explanation was provided, nor was the duration of his leave specified.

"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," Sesame Workshop said in its statement.

"Sesame Street" is currently in production, but other puppeteers are prepared to fill in for Clash during his absence, according to a person close to the show who spoke on condition of anonymity because that person was not authorized to publicly discuss details about the show's production.

"Elmo will still be a part of the shows being produced," that person said.

In addition to his role as Elmo, Clash also serves as the show's senior Muppet coordinator and Muppet captain.

Clash, the 52-year-old divorced father of a grown daughter, has been a puppeteer for "Sesame Street" since 1984. It was then that he was handed the fuzzy red puppet with ping-pong-ball eyes and asked to come up with a voice for him. Clash transformed the character, which had been a marginal member of the Muppets gang for a number of years, into a major star rivaling Big Bird as the face of "Sesame Street."

Among children and adults alike, Elmo was quickly embraced as a frolicsome child with a high-pitched giggle and a tendency to speak of himself in the third person.

"I would love to be totally like Elmo," Clash said in a 1997 interview with The Associated Press. "He is playful and direct and positive."

Besides "Sesame Street," Elmo has made guest appearances on dozens of TV shows. He starred in the 1999 feature film "Elmo in Grouchland." And he has inspired a vast product line, including the Tickle Me Elmo doll, which created a sales sensation with its introduction in 1996.

Along the way, Clash has become a star in his own right. In 2006, he published an autobiography, "My Life as a Furry Red Monster," and was the subject of the 2011 documentary "Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey."

AP reporter Tom Hays contributed to this report.

Tags

Comments (2) -

James Cieloha Nickname posted over 4 years ago
I urge all fans of Sesame Street to boycott Sesame Street entirely right now in response to Kevin Clash allegations of being in a relationship with a 16 year old gay male years ago. Please do not buy any Sesame Street related merchandise in the future including DVD's, toys, books, bedding sets, and others and avoid watching Sesame Street entirely right now. No more watching Elmo, Big Bird, Oscar Grouch, Grover, Cookie Monster, Bert, Ernie, Abby, Rosita, Zoe because of the scandal right now with Kevin Clash. I got the best idea to discipline Kevin Clash is to have the Texas judge William Adams to come over to scold Kevin Clash by forcing him to take an adult version of the time out and sit on the adult time out chair for 123 straight hours as well as getting belted and whipped 123 straight times for his punishment of being involved in a underage relationship with a gay male and hurting Sesame Street's creditability to educate children in the past, present, and the future.
dawg78 Nickname posted over 4 years ago
My what an articulate response. This is why we need PBS and programs like Sesame Street, to counter such deep, careful thought and insight.
Marketshare Blog Playout Blog

Twitter

TVNewsCheck

Ratings

Overnights, adults 18-49 for September 27, 2016
  • 1.
    3.0/11
  • 2.
    1.8/6
  • 3.
    1.2/4
  • 4.
    0.9/3
  • 5.
    0.6/2
  • 6.
    0.2/1
Source: Nielsen

Reviews

  • Rob Owen

    Easily fall’s best broadcast network comedy pilot, NBC’s The Good Place offers a clever high-concept premise that’s complemented with intelligent, sometimes absurdist humor. Created by Michael Schur, co-creator of NBC’s Parks and Recreation, The Good Place is a highly serialized series that’s essentially set in heaven and stars Kristen Bell and Ted Danson. NBC made five episodes of The Good Place available for review, and the show not only holds up, but also it improves, deepening characters that initially feel one-note and frequently leaving viewers guessing with cliffhanger endings to many of the episodes. The combination of snappy dialogue and winning but flawed characters makes The Good Place a great bet for fans of smart TV comedy.

  • Maureen Ryan

    Pitch has swagger, for good reason. It gets the big things right; the Fox drama about the first female baseball player in the Major Leagues is one of the year’s most assured and exciting debuts. But part of what impresses about the pilot is also the way it confidently strings together so many small but telling details. Ginny (Kylie Bunbury) is the first woman to be called up from the minors to the big leagues, and no show since Friday Night Lights has done a better job of portraying the internal and external pressures that weigh heavily on young athletes asked to do much more than merely succeed on the field. Pitch will likely do a good job of getting viewers to root for it. The hope is that the show won’t be an impressive, short-lived curiosity, but rather a long-term phenomenon.

  • Kevin Fallon

    In a fall TV season that’s already making a splash for championing diverse, distinctive voices in an array of projects that they created, wrote, and starred in, Better Things on FX stands out. The show is created by, written by, and starsPamela Adlon. She plays Sam Fox, the single mother of three daughters modeled after her own reality-show-ready experience raising three girls in Los Angeles following a divorce. Sam is also, like Adlon, a working actress — on shows both raunchy, a la Californication, and animated for children, like her role on Recess. It’s a refreshingly blunt take on single motherhood without sacrificing the warmth of parental love, portraying the dance between selfishness and selflessness that’s at the heart of being a parent — especially one weathering the hormonal fireworks of a household of four women at different ages.

  • David Wiegand

    The fall TV season doesn’t count as much as it used to — we already know that. But no matter how many retreads the broadcast networks throw at viewers in the next few months, this fall will be memorable because of the premiere of Atlanta on Tuesday, Sept. 6, on FX. The half-hour comedy created by and starring Donald Glover (Community), simply and brilliantly recalibrates our expectations of what a TV comedy is and how black lives are portrayed on the medium.

  • Louisa Ada Seltzer

    The second reboot of the 1980s John Candy movie Uncle Buck, bumped by ABC from midseason, has the same tired jokes you'll find on any second-rate sitcom. Too bad, because Mike Epps is appealing and ABC would be wise to keep him around for future shows, but there’s just not enough to this show to suggest it will last past summer. It also airs against NBC’s America’s Got Talent, summer’s No. 1 program on broadcast, which may make it even harder to find an audience.

  • Neil Genzlinger

    Bryan Cranston brings his Tony Award-winning interpretation of President Lyndon B. Johnson to television in an adaptation of the Robert Schenkkan play All the Way, and it’s still quite a sight to behold, just as it was on Broadway in 2014. Nothing beats witnessing this kind of larger-than-life portrayal onstage, of course. But the television version, presented by HBO, offers plenty of rewards, allowing Cranston to work the close-ups and liberating him from the confines of a theater set. Cranston’s performance is a gem — in his hands, this accidental president comes across as an amazing bundle of contradictions, someone who seems at once too vulgar for the job and just right for it.

This advertisement will close automatically in  second(s). You will see this ad no more than once a day. Skip ad