November 13, 2012 3:04pm PT by Erin Carlson
Elmo Puppeteer Kevin Clash 'Relieved' After Accuser Recants
Kevin Clash, the Sesame Street puppeteer who voices Elmo, says he's "relieved" that accusations that he had a sexual relationship with a teenage boy have been dropped.
"I am relieved that this painful allegation has been put to rest. I will not discuss it further," Clash said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.
Late Tuesday afternoon, Clash's accuser recanted his previous claims through his attorney, who backtracked to say it was an "adult consensual relationship."
The accuser's identity is unknown.
As previously reported, Clash, 52, had taken a leave of absence from Sesame Workshop following an internal investigation into the allegations, which were made in June by a 23-year-old man who claimed to have had a sexual relationship with Clash when he was 16. In a statement issued Monday, Sesame Workshop said it "found the allegation of underage conduct to be unsubstantiated" and that Clash was granted a leave of absence as he's "taking actions to protect his reputation."
Clash has voiced Elmo since 1985, launching the sweet-natured, red-furred puppet -- who'd been a recurring character since the '70s -- to a greater level of fame alongside Big Bird and Cookie Monster. Clash has won 23 Daytime Emmys for his Sesame Street work.
Last year, Clash starred in the documentary Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey, which debuted to positive reviews in competition at the Sundance Film Festival. At the time, THR called Clash an "exceptional performer" and the film "a rare documentary that will connect across generations and cultures to delight viewers worldwide for years to come."
Clash further denied his accuser's allegations Monday, telling THR: "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."