When you think of Elmo, the cuddly red Sesame Street puppet that launched a toy frenzy a few Christmases ago, you probably don't think of "gay sex with a minor." Just a hunch. But TMZ, unfortunately, broke the story recently that Kevin Clash, the high-pitched voice of Elmo, is currently being accused of having sex with a 16-year-old boy seven years ago, when he was 45. Clash, who's now 52, has been Elmo since 1984, and he vehemently denies the accusation, saying, "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." Clash is currently taking a leave of absence from his high-profile job to deal with this mess -- this mess that keeps on getting weirder.
The accuser apparently met with Sesame Workshop officials on two occasions, but he felt that they were basically just trying to keep him quiet, so he lawyered up with the firm that represented one of the Jerry Sandusky victims. A few months ago, the firm sent Sesame Workshop a letter, accusing them of attempting 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." Wow.
But here's where things get murky.
Sesame Workshop officials apparently told TMZ that they conducted their own investigation of the issue and concluded that the allegation of underage sex was unsubstantiated. They also claim that they never tried to silence the accuser -- they just asked for supporting evidence, but he never produced it. However, now the accuser has produced an email -- which has, of course, been obtained by TMZ -- that was allegedly sent by Clash to the accuser, acknowledging an affair when the victim was 16. Sesame officials believe this email is fraudulent, as it wasn't produced earlier.
It's hard to place blame here, as this really is a "he says/he says" situation. Clearly, these two men had a relationship, but when is the $64,000 question. Really, it's a lose-lose here, as if what the accuser is saying is true, it's sad. And if it's not, it's sad, also, as he's pretty much ruining somebody's reputation. And not just anybody's -- Elmo's.
Here's Kevin Clash as Elmo. What do you think of this?