Tickle me, Elmo? Not anymore for Kevin Clash, the 50-something actor who is the voice behind the iconic Sesame Street character.
According to TMZ, Clash has taken a leave of absence from the long-running children's show amid allegations that he had sexual relations with a minor several years ago. Clash vehemently denies these allegations.
Lawyers for Sesame Street recently met with a 23-year-old man who claims he had sexual relations with Clash when he was a teenager. The network issued a statement regarding the claims: "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." The statement continued, "this was a personal relationship, unrelated to the workplace. We took the allegation very seriously and took immediate action."
The young man's lawyers feel the Sesame Street team is trying to strong arm their client, claiming they tried to "discredit the victim in order to protect its employee and the image of one of its most valuable characters," adding, "this approach places a greater value on a puppet than the well-being of a young man."
As for Clash, he tells TMZ that he did indeed know the accuser but that their relationship occured after he was of age: "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."
Sesame Workshop has granted Clash a leave of absence while he deals with his legal affairs, which begs the question, who will give a voice to Elmo in the mean time?
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(Photo: AP Photo/Victoria Will, file)