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Sesame Street’s ‘voice of Elmo’ accused of sexual relationship with minor

Allegation of underage conduct 'unsubstantiated'
Monday, November 12, 2012

Kevin Clash — the openly gay actor who voices Sesame Street’s Muppet character Elmo — has taken a leave of absence to fight accusations that he had a sexual relationship with an underage male.

Kevin Clash

The Sesame Workshop broke the story early Monday morning, announcing that in June of this year, it received a communication from a then 23-year-old man who alleged that he had a relationship with Clash, beginning when he was 16-years-old.

“We took the allegation very seriously and took immediate action. We met with the accuser twice and had repeated communications with him. We met with Kevin, who denied the accusation. We also conducted a thorough investigation and found the allegation of underage conduct to be unsubstantiated,” the Sesame Workshop said, in a statement.

“Although this was a personal relationship unrelated to the workplace, our investigation did reveal that Kevin exercised poor judgment and violated company policy regarding internet usage and he was disciplined.

“Kevin insists that the allegation of underage conduct is false and defamatory and he is taking actions to protect his reputation. We have granted him a leave of absence to do so.”

Clash has acknowledged the relationship, but insisted that the accuser was legally an adult at the time.

“I am a gay man. I have never been ashamed of this or tried to hide it,” Clash said, in a statement issued Monday afternoon. “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. I am taking a break from Sesame Workshop to deal with this false and defamatory allegation.”

Sesame Workshop, formerly known as the Children’s Television Workshop, is a Worldwide American non-profit organization behind the production of several educational children’s programs, including PBS’ long-running “Sesame Street.”

Update, 11/14/2012: The Smoking Gun has identified Clash’s accuser as 24-year-old model and actor Sheldon Stephens.

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39 more reader comments:

  1. SMH.

    Posted on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 7:28pm
  2. WHAT?!

    Posted on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 7:29pm
  3. Sad. Never wanna hear Elmo’s voice again now.

    Posted on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 7:29pm
  4. I HIGHLY doubt it. HIGHLY. If anyone has seen the documentary on this man’s life you would know that he would NEVER do such a thing.

    Posted on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 7:29pm
  5. gross!

    Posted on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 7:29pm
  6. LMAO OMG dear lawd, sweet jaysis! A mess!

    Posted on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 7:30pm
  7. The accusations have already been discredited by a thorough in-house investigation. The police investigation will also show that the complaintant is less than credible.

    Posted on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 7:30pm
  8. I knew it…

    Posted on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 7:30pm
  9. LOL

    Posted on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 7:30pm
  10. OMG!!! If they are going to be openly gay at least stay the hell away from minors!!! Sick!!! Painting an ugly picture of poor Elmo!!! FIRE HIM ALREADY!!!!!

    Posted on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 7:31pm
  11. “We also conducted a thorough investigation and found the allegation of underage conduct to be unsubstantiated,” the Sesame Workshop said, in a statement.”

    Somebody’s after money! Why did it take this guy 7 years to report it?

    Posted on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 7:32pm
  12. LL.M..A..O

    Posted on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 7:32pm
  13. Innocent until proven guilty I would hope.

    Posted on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 7:34pm
  14. Ugh. Who cares. None of my business.

    Posted on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 7:35pm
  15. Kathy, learn to read before you comment.

    Posted on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 7:36pm
  16. Kathy. Depends on the state age of consent law. In many states 16 is the age of consent.

    Posted on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 7:37pm
  17. I agree with ^^^^ Kathy, what the hell are you trying to say??? Please explain!!

    Posted on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 7:38pm
  18. YOU LEFT OUT THE WORD ALLEGED LGBTQ Nation
    Your Headline should be
    Sesame Street’s ‘voice of Elmo’ accused of ALLEGED sexual relationship with a minor

    Posted on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 7:41pm
  19. That’s a shame. I hope the allegations are false. :/

    Posted on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 7:41pm
  20. Kathy gay doesn’t mean paedophile. If the man was straight and had a relationship with a 16 year old girl would you be carrying on and saying he shouldn’t have been around minors? In fact would it have even been an issue, except for the ridiculous age difference, if this was a straight relationship? Besides age of consent should be the same for males and females.

    Posted on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 7:42pm
  21. Lmao Kathy, shut up!

    Posted on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 7:43pm
  22. Kathy, if you’re going to be openly Straight stay the HELL away form minors! I am scared for that minor standing next to you in your pic, heaven forbid you have tainted him with your openly Straightness.

    Posted on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 7:48pm
  23. well damn (gucci mane voice)

    Posted on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 7:51pm
  24. It surprises me that LGBTQ Nation subscribers would automatically believe these wild allegations with no proof. The accuser attempted to shake-down Sesame Street months before leaking this on TMZ. He still hasn’t filed a police report for the alleged conduct that occurred 7 years ago and he’s maintained amicable with Clash until recently. This seems more about money than anything else.

    Posted on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 7:53pm
  25. well said Thomas…hahaha Good comment. Poor guy, I’m afraid the nasty publicity will not allow him to recover from this~I can imagine Elmo will be “retired”…sad… We’ll see how this pans out, but seems like a publicity/$ grab from the accuser.

    Posted on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 7:56pm
  26. James maybe if LGBTQ Nation had written the CORRECT headline people might have a different reaction but LGBTQ staff have already convicted this man by their biased headline. It drives me crazy when allegedly gay rights activists go all self loathing

    Posted on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 7:56pm
  27. You know what’s funny? paparazzi’s are such a big ass rumor hoax when they did this.

    Posted on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 7:56pm
  28. Wow! is their anyone who won’t get accused of sexual assault these days?…I mean c’mon people!

    Posted on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 7:58pm
  29. The law and statutes regarding age of consent don’t make sense because they are not based on actually determined propriety based on the individuals involved.

    It’s a one size fits all imposition of what is actually very religiously driven reactionary nonsense.

    Obviously… OBVIOUSLY there are things that are not right. That said, why are the laws based around a number instead of a circumstance? The age of consent is a lot lower in some other countries and there are many cultures in which there is no distinction made with respect to sexuality… unlike the puritanical idiocracy we live in here.

    So are those people throwing their innocent children to the wolves? No. Those people presume that good decisions and sanity prevail among most and they do not presume their young people to be helpless and stupid and hence don’t create a situation where they are.

    Protecting someone is one thing but it gets out of hand and creates greater problems.

    And before someone tells me to go to another country if it’s so great, that’s obsolete thinking and it’s an obsolete reactionary defense.

    I was born in this country and when/where it is screwed up, it is my job as a conscious member of it’s population to speak of it.

    You don’t get to play that card.

    Posted on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 7:59pm
  30. Kathy take your ass on somewhere. Nobody wants to hear your ignorance.. You paint an ugly picture for the human race. -.-

    Posted on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 8:01pm
  31. I think the person who made such claims is trying to get money out of this guy. You know what the chance of a homosexual being a pedophile is? less then 1.5% chance(bad at math btw). Research showed that out of 300 individuals.. only 2 people brought the thought that these individuals had relationships with the same gender. (thought) Most pedophiles are straight white males. Sad to say. But thats what the research shows. Usually Father, Uncle, Family friend, and actually both parents. I think allegations are to get money out of him. since he is a famous puppeteer who handles a really famous puppet.

    Posted on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 8:03pm
  32. Ugh why do people read accused and immediately read ‘found guilty’. also the whole thing is absurd. Notice how the kid went to The Sesame Street Corp as oppose to going to the cops? And actually didn’t go to the police at all. This is beyond ridiculous.

    Posted on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 8:13pm
  33. I smell something fowl, a Romney supporter looking for a law suit.

    Posted on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 8:33pm
  34. Lance. 30 states have the age of consent at “16″.

    Posted on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 8:58pm
  35. that sure as HELL doesn’t HELP the cause….UGH.

    Posted on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 9:22pm
  36. Alisa. You’re right about one thing, it doesn’t help the cause when people like you believe everything you read.

    Posted on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 9:24pm
  37. Kevin, good luck on your fight. I hope the entire truth comes out and what’s right prevails!

    Posted on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 10:06pm
  38. not sure if consentual !

    Posted on Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 2:00pm
  39. UPDATE: The accusers retracted their story.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 6:43pm