Accuser recants allegations against Elmo puppeteer

UPDATE on the story from The Associated Press:

“The man who accused Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash of having sex with him when he was a teen now says it isn’t so.

The man is now saying his sexual relationship with Clash was adult and consensual.

In response to the statement Tuesday afternoon, Clash issued a statement of his own, saying he is “relieved that this painful allegation has been put to rest.”

The man, who has not identified himself, released his statement through the Harrisburg, Pa., law firm of Andreozzi & Associates.”

Below is the original blog and story from The Associated Press:

Kevin Clash, the longtime puppeteer of Elmo on Sesame Street, has been accused of having a relationship with an underage boy. Clash denies it. Sesame Workshop investigated and said while he exercised some bad judgment, the company couldn’t substantiate the underage aspect. But now the puppeteer is on leave to defend himself.

Sesame Street is in production and a source close to production said Elmo would be in the shows with or without Clash there to perform.

Here is the full story from AP:

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

Puppeteer Kevin Clash has denied the charges, which, according to Sesame Workshop, were first made in June by the accuser, who by then was 23.

“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 “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 said in a statement of his own. “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.”

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.

Clash, the 52-year-old divorced father of a grown daughter, added, “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 am taking a break from Sesame Workshop to deal with this false and defamatory allegation,” he said.

Neither Clash nor Sesame Workshop indicated how long his absence might be.

“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 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….

Clash has won 23 daytime Emmy awards and one prime-time Emmy.

Clash has been a puppeteer for “Sesame Street” since 1984, when 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 languished as a marginal member of the Muppets family for a number of years, into a major star that rivaled Big Bird as the face of “Sesame Street.”…

So what do you think: Do you even mention to the kids who are watching that Elmo might sound different or wait to see if they notice? Do you think you would notice a difference?

What do make of Sesame Street getting dragged into controversies: Katy Perry’s video with the questionable outfit a few years back, Mitt Romney’s quote on Big Bird and now this?

70 comments Add your comment

FCM

November 13th, 2012
2:01 pm

No you don’t. See here is one of the areas parents should exercise the right to let children live in bubble wrap. Just because we live in a world where accusations like this come up does not mean that we have to tell the kids. No I do not think they will notice a huge difference and the answer is Elmo is 3 he is still trying to find his big boy voice!

Perhaps Mitt was right and it is time that public spending on Big Bird (who I find annoying but I love Cookie Monster!!!) needs to go away.

FCM

November 13th, 2012
2:04 pm

Let a private company pick up the Sesame Street show and work all these issues out. (Nickelodeon or Disney–more likely Disney as they have a relationship there already—would be happy too).

Denise

November 13th, 2012
2:26 pm

Why would you draw attention to something like that? That will only confuse kids and then you will have to answer a bunch of questions on why his voice has changed. KIDS watch Sesame Street and probably won’t notice.

Mayhem

November 13th, 2012
2:33 pm

Ditto what the three previous said. There’s just no need to alert the kiddies….this is beyone them. Let them enjoy SS and being children.

Jeff S

November 13th, 2012
2:41 pm

I suppose it might depend on the age of the kids? Very young kids might not notice, but if they do, you might find some likely excuse. . . “maybe he has a cold?” Older kids, you might just explain that sometimes on TV, the actor that portrays a character sometimes has to be changed, either for a little while, or permanently, but the character gets to live on, and it might be a little disappointing to have the character be acted by someone else, but you can still enjoy the show if you accept that.

That way, you don’t have to get into discussions which are not age appropriate, seems like.

Kathy

November 13th, 2012
2:42 pm

Do not involve children in the illegal and immoral behaviors of adults any more than is absolutely necessary. They learn too soon as it is.

MBC_Mom

November 13th, 2012
2:44 pm

1.) Sesame Street did it’s own investigation and “Its investigation found the allegation of underage conduct to be unsubstantiated”
2.) The reporter checked and “There is no record of any criminal charge”
3.) Clash has stated “I am taking a break from Sesame Workshop to deal with this false and defamatory allegation”

In today’s atmosphere of witch hunting if someone is even accussed of sexual misconduct – presumed guilty regardless of whether or not innocent, Clash has done the most reasonable thing he can and that is to go into preservation mode and try to fight back against the accuser. Accuser said underage, but Sesame Street indicates met multiple times and also communications outside that and they could not substantiate the accusation. Who knows what the relationship dynamics were or are – perhaps legitimate, but perhaps accuser has an axe to grind? Fastest way today to destroy a man (or woman) is accusation of being a pedaphile – boom – life over.

Judge Smails

November 13th, 2012
2:45 pm

You mean Elmo is not real???

Why would ne need someone else to “do” his voice???

jk

November 13th, 2012
2:46 pm

I think Big Bird set him up!

Becky

November 13th, 2012
2:48 pm

Nope..Pretty much like everyone else said, why would you? Most kids most likely won’t notice the different voice..

Jay

November 13th, 2012
2:52 pm

I thought the pupeteer and the voice were different people. Is that wrong?

Erica

November 13th, 2012
2:56 pm

We didn’t need to explain Darrin No. 1 and Darrin No. 2 (hell, they had the same first name, Dick) and we didn’t broach the subject about Kermit’s voice changing after Jim Henson died. There’s enough talent out there that the kids probably won’t even notice.

Georgia

November 13th, 2012
2:57 pm

This is almost as scandalous as when the world found out that one of the Scrubbing Bubbles characters on the bathroom cleanser containers was gay.

Justin

November 13th, 2012
2:57 pm

No one said anything when Mickey’s voice changed, and it is VERY different. Same goes for Miss Piggy. I think that if they can’t get someone to sound just like Clash doing Elmo, then they aren’t even looking for voice talent.

non committal mind reader

November 13th, 2012
3:01 pm

Do you even mention to kids that Elmo voice may be different guy?

No. Like all kids watching cartoons, they will figure it out for themselves. It is part of realizing that cartoons are not real, puppets are not alive, and all voices are real people who die/move on. To this day, I simply cannot watch any of the “later” Peanuts specials (with my kids) because the voices are not right.

Kids do not need to know that the voice changed because the other voice was a pedophile. When looking back, TWG, you will realize that this is the most stupid blog you have ever written.

Mayhem

November 13th, 2012
3:01 pm

WHAT????? A scrubbing bubble is gay? O M G……what is this world coming to? Now we have gay cleaning bubbles….oh no….say it isn’t so……

not a parent

November 13th, 2012
3:04 pm

why would you tell kids that?
i am glad my parents did not give me all the facts and that i had a somewhat sheltered normal childhood
quit making everything so sensual and weird in life.

Andrew

November 13th, 2012
3:07 pm

I don’t think you have to tell your kids about Kevin Clash’s issue if they notice Elmo’s voice has changed.

But, if you are a parent and you do not discuss how to avoid sexual predators, do not tell your children the correct name for their private parts, and try to avoid this topic altogether than you are a dolt that will most likely have a child who is a victim of sexual abuse.

Red

November 13th, 2012
3:14 pm

Leslie, the slur in you comment is disgusting.

No, the kids don’t need to know. The other Muppets have had different voices over the years too, do parents feel the need to explain those also?

James

November 13th, 2012
3:15 pm

This brings a whole new meaning to Tickle Me Elmo O_o

Me

November 13th, 2012
3:16 pm

Why would you? To them, “Elmo” is much more than the person controlling the puppet and, to this extent, it’s doubtful they have given little, if any, thought. Why change that? And, if you do make that decision, then why and what is the benefit?

Roberta

November 13th, 2012
3:21 pm

No you’ve got me wondering why Fred Flintstone’s voice changed.

Michael

November 13th, 2012
3:25 pm

No. No way do kids need to know that the puppeteers at Sesame Street might be gay perverts. I’m just happy the news is out so we can finally have a good excuse to not let our kids watch it. Elmo is creepy anyway. Now, we all kind of know why that may be.

Selena

November 13th, 2012
3:28 pm

Seriously, if this is your biggest issue in your day, you either need to fall to your knees and thank whoever your “god” is, and/or get a life.

Real Mom

November 13th, 2012
3:30 pm

You must be out of your mind to even ask this question. What is it about so many parents these days that think that there toddlers are small adults and need all adult topics explained to them. Get a grip and treat your children like the children they are. Explain why Elmo has a new voice? Most children will not even notice as long as Elmo is acting the same. If your toddler is asking questions about Elmo and his alleged behavior then you need to take a serious look at your parenting skills.

Concerned Parent

November 13th, 2012
3:34 pm

Elmo isn’t real?

Randolph

November 13th, 2012
3:36 pm

@Michael But if they were straight perverts, that would be okay, right?

Concerned Parent

November 13th, 2012
3:36 pm

If Elmo is gay (not that anything is wrong with that), the children have a right to know the truth.

They already know about Bert and Ernie anyway.

Neil

November 13th, 2012
3:40 pm

Leslie, it is sad that you had to make such a comment. It reminds me that there are people out there who still think that way. Gee, do you teach your kids things like that? Just saying…

Neil

November 13th, 2012
3:41 pm

Oh, and Michael, nice open minded thinking there!

AY

November 13th, 2012
3:45 pm

Okay no i didn’t finish reading the article and no I didn’t finish reading all the comments but to the few I saw that said:
1 Romney is right about ending Big Bird- you’re an idiot. Not everyone in this world can afford cable- Big Bird is one of the few educational shows they have. And it costs next to nothing in contrast to our budget.
2 Sesame Street is privately owned and receives federal funding as part of PBS. If it was not part of PBS it would be run on another channel. So all of you out there saying to turn it over to the private companies are also stupid. Didn’t you hear about the people of Sesame Street asking Obama not to use Big Bird in his ads?
3 You’re dumb to bring politics into this article. Not everything has to do with Repubs v Dems
Now to the article.. No of course you don’t tell you’re kids. What kind of an idiot would even write an article like this? It’s so pointless? Could you really not get anymore information for a relevant article than”Do you tell your kids?”

james

November 13th, 2012
3:47 pm

Is this for real? For the love of God, what’s wrong with parents nowadays? How about letting a kid be a kid? Who the hell cares who is voicing Elmo? I’d be much more concerned at the amount of time your child spends in front of a computer having it ‘think’ for them… You don’t have to hover over your child for every fart in the universe… These kids are over structured to death at an early age. I think the worst thing though was the invention of the annoying ‘play-date’ …… kids should be kids, not only a kid from 3 to 4:30 on Thursday the 18th so you can watch every snot they pick out of their nose… these kids today have their parents so far up their asses that they never develop any individuality in their personality, they become their parents at an early age and their creativity during the crucial developmental years is choked off. Kids don’t need to know anyone voices Elmo. Just tell him he’s real and from another planet and leave it at that.

Mayhem

November 13th, 2012
3:50 pm

Apparently James was NOT loved as a child…..

Meghan

November 13th, 2012
3:50 pm

Did they mention that Jim Henson no longer did Kermit’s voice?!

Snuffy

November 13th, 2012
3:52 pm

Snuffolupagus was made to be real by parents’ concerns about imaginary friends….give it a break! And like Meghan posted, Jim Henson passed and his son took over Kermit’s voice. So what?! A Muppet is loved, not matter what. Did they state “Mr. Noodle” actor died of AIDS? Doesn’t matter.

A

November 13th, 2012
3:54 pm

@Leslie, what a truly disgusting and intolerant comment. Thank goodness the haters like you lost elections last week. As for Elmo, I have no problem if Kevin Clash is gay; I do have a problem if he entered into a relationship with someone who was underaged at the time. Hopefully the facts will show he did not and that he is innocent, which we should assume he is unless proven otherwise. And no, there’s no point in telling any of this to young kids.

DISTURBING

November 13th, 2012
3:57 pm

All of my kids are to old for sesame street (they are teens), my bigger concerns is the fact that there is no mention that a 47 (or 49 if he waited to have sex until the minor was 18) man was having sex with a 16 year old and it seems like most are ok with it???? I sure would not want some 47 year old wrinkled dude touching my 18 year old son. WTF?

Darr247

November 13th, 2012
3:58 pm

OMG… I remember how traumatized I was when Dick York left Bewitched. And then we found out his replacement was gay… then we found out the dad on Brady Bunch was gay. And then Rock Hudson… and Chuck Connors. What’s next… are we going to find out Bart Simpson is actually a girl???

SA

November 13th, 2012
4:06 pm

Oh for goodness sakes, stop overthinking this. You do not have to tell your kids a darn thing. The world didn’t end when they switched out a Wiggle, Elmo getting a new voice will be just fine.

And Leslie—-I pity you, it must really suck to live with so much hate.

Chaos

November 13th, 2012
4:10 pm

Does this mean there will be a “Touch me, Elmo” doll for the holidays? Will it be a must have toy?

Irene Hollimon

November 13th, 2012
4:13 pm

H E double toothpicks NO!!! Kids ask enough questions. Unless the voice VERY different, they won’t notice. Have they noticed that Bewitched has two different Darrens? There is no need to prompt them into conversational territory they may not be ready. Kids will ask questions when they’re ready to hear the answers. You’ll get enough ‘why do those people talk different, why is that lady so fat, why doesn’t Angela’s mother make tortillas etc., etc., etc., Then there are the even more interesting like what vous dire mean- what? seriously? where the H E double toothpicks did that come from? All I can say is Thank God for wikipedia…

KOL

November 13th, 2012
4:22 pm

I had a feeling Elmo might have been a little limp-wristed. I think Mr. Noodle may be too.

tickle me

November 13th, 2012
4:23 pm

Did anyone else notice the error in the title? This article is trash.

leigh

November 13th, 2012
4:25 pm

really? REALLY? I’d love for the ajc to develop a way that I could read the on-line version without having to see your blog titles. Everytime I think they could not be more inane, you prove me wrong.

Laughing parent

November 13th, 2012
4:45 pm

Momania is a great title for this blog. It is a great illustration of the over-parenting that goes on today. I look at it regularly–mainly when I need a good laugh. Talk about this with my kids? Not in this lifetime. They do not watch enough TV to recognize Elmo’s voice. They are not adults and I do not treat them as adults. Let them be kids. If you have to write a blog why not start looking at topics that might have a positive effect—such as turning off the TV and reading to your kids. Encourage play time without a stupid play date. Reasonable parental involvement in school—not micromanaging and not ignoring it either. But discussing this Elmo problem with them? About the same time I discuss Bill Clinton and General Petraeus with them.

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askip

November 13th, 2012
4:56 pm

I wonder if Mr. Clash is going to eat @ Chic-fil-a .

Scooby

November 13th, 2012
5:02 pm

Lucas McCain was gay??

DONNAN OF A NEW ERA

November 13th, 2012
5:08 pm

So Elmo is sexually abusing kids and Big Bird wants more taxpayer money.

atl_native

November 13th, 2012
5:08 pm

TMI for the little ones. This is way tooo easy to make a crack about. So I’ll leave it at that