Elmo’s Puppeteer Kevin Clash Takes a Leave of Absence After Being Accused of Sexual Abuse

Photo: Michael Tran/Getty Images

Kevin Clash, who has voiced Elmo since 1984 and was the subject of the 2011 documentary Being Elmo, has been granted a leave of absence from Sesame Street after being accused of an unlawful sexual relationship seven years ago with a 16-year-old boy. Clash denies the charges. He told TMZ that he "had a relationship with [the accuser]" but it "was between two consenting adults," asserting that their relationship took place after the accuser was of age. The accuser's lawyers claim to have incriminating e-mails from Clash, at least one of which implies a sexual relationship, though Sesame Workshop's lawyers believe them to be fraudulent. Clash is taking a leave in order to focus on refuting these allegations. Elmo, however, will continue to appear on Sesame Street with a replacement puppeteer.