Entertainment & Arts

Elmo puppeteer cleared of under-age sex claim

Kevin Clash with Elmo
Image caption Mr Clash was the subject of a 2011 documentary called Being Elmo

A man who accused a Sesame Street puppeteer of having under-age sex with him has recanted his story.

The anonymous 23-year-old admitted through a lawyer that his sexual relationship with Kevin Clash had been an "adult consensual" one.

Mr Clash, 52, who has operated Elmo since the 1980s, said he was "relieved" the allegation had been dropped.

On Monday, Sesame Street producers said they were satisfied the accuser's claim of under-age sex was "unsubstantiated".

Sesame Street had given Mr Clash a leave of absence as he took action to protect his reputation.

Mr Clash did not deny the relationship, but said it happened after the young man was an adult.

"I am relieved that this painful allegation has been put to rest," he said in a statement on Tuesday. "I will not discuss it further."

Sesame Street said in a statement it was "pleased that this matter has been brought to a close".

The show did not say when it expected Mr Clash to return to work.

The accuser contacted the Sesame Street Workshop in June, claiming he had been in a relationship with the puppeteer that started when he was 16.

"We conducted a thorough investigation and found the allegation of under-age conduct to be unsubstantiated," the Sesame Street Workshop said in a statement on Monday.

Producers said Mr Clash had only shown "poor judgement" in violating company policy on internet usage, although they did not elaborate.

Mr Clash, the subject of 2011 documentary Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey, has won several Daytime Emmy awards for his work on Sesame Street.

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