Yesterday one of my friends on Twitter wrote, "I have never wanted allegations to be unfounded more than I do right now for Kevin Clash." I know what she means. It's not just that we hope that it isn't true that Elmo's puppeteer, 52-year-old Kevin Clash, was involved in a sexual relationship with an underage teen -- it's that we don't want an iconic children's character to get dragged down in the scandal.
In many ways, it's too late. The accusations have been made, the Tickle Me Elmo jokes have been flying, and we'll probably never be able to hear that instantly-recognizable high-pitched voice quite the same ... no matter what facts are uncovered.
But Kevin Clash and his onetime lover both deserve to have the truth told, so here's the very latest on what's being reported.
On Monday, Sesame Workshop has acknowledged that Clash was disciplined for “violating company policy regarding Internet usage." According to TMZ, he was busted for sending a racy personal message from his Sesame email account. The email was reportedly sent to the man who now claims he had a sexual relationship with Clash when he was 16 and Clash was 45.
TMZ says the message was sent well after the accuser turned 18, and it included an apology for constantly talking about sex. Clash reportedly wrote,
I’m sorry that I keep talking about sex with you, it’s driving me insane. I want you to know that I love you and I will never hurt you. I’m here to protect you and make sure your dreams come true. I’ll have my assistant book a ticket for you to come to NY and we can talk about this in person.
Clash, who is currently on a leave of absence to "deal with this false and defamatory allegation," said in a statement that the relationship was perfectly legal:
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 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 what it was.
Man, this story is difficult. If Clash's lover was under the age of consent, it's obviously a legal matter and he deserves to have his name dragged through the mud (although Elmo is some unfortunate collateral damage). But if his accuser was of age ... well, it's none of our business. Regardless of what we may think about older men dating people who are much younger.
Of course, it doesn't matter what TECHNICALLY is or isn't our business, the truth is that Clash's career as Elmo is probably over no matter what. Remember what happened to Pee Wee Herman after he was busted in a porn theater in 1991? Even if Stash is found innocent of any underage transgressions, it's unlikely that parents will ever be able to separate the man from the puppet again.
Do you think we'll be hearing a different Elmo voice soon?
Image via AGeekMom/Flickr