Kevin Clash’s statement: ‘I am a gay man, I had a relationship with the accuser’

I still don’t know what to think or who to believe in this Sesame Street Awfulness. Yesterday, we discussed how Kevin Clash – the voice of Elmo and one of the most valuable and beloved puppeteers in the world – has been accused of having a relationship with a 16-year-old boy. The accuser is now 23, and he claims that he and Kevin began a seven-year relationship when he was 16. TMZ reported yesterday that Sesame Street did a “thorough investigation” into the guy’s claims and they don’t think there’s anything there, but they did allow Kevin Clash to take a leave of absence while Clash fought against these charges. And by “charges” I don’t even know what we’re talking about. I don’t think the police are involved, I think this might just be a civil issue right now…? But it could possibly become a criminal investigation, I suppose.

So, what’s new? Clash has issued a statement to media outlets and there seems to be some push-back from Team Clash:

The puppeteer who performs as the Sesame Street character Elmo has been granted a leave of absence from his job amid allegations he had an improper relationship with a 16-year-old boy.

Kevin Clash denies the allegations first reported by TMZ but says that he had a consensual relationship with a man, who is now 23, that occurred when the accuser was of legal age.

“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,” Clash, 52, tells PEOPLE in a statement via his personal rep.

“I had a relationship with the accuser,” his statement continues. “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 officials said in a statement released to PEOPLE that they have investigated the claims and found that the underage sex allegations could not be substantiated.

“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,” the company said in a statement.

Sesame Workshop officials told PEOPLE that the character Elmo would survive despite the scandal, saying, “Elmo is bigger than any one person and will continue to be an integral part of Sesame Street to engage, educate and inspire children around the world.”

[From People]

I guess Clash is saying that although he’s known his accuser since the guy was 16, they only developed a romantic and sexual relationship once the kid came of age. Which still bugs me even if it’s the truth. Clash is 52 years old! Go back five years – when his accuser was 18 years old – and Clash was still 47 years old. I’m sorry, but even though that’s legal, it’s still creepy and gross.

Mostly I’m just bothered by all of the kids who will be negatively affected by this – in the Sesame Street world, Kevin Clash was and is a rock star. Will kids and their parents throw away their Elmo dolls and Elmo products because of this? Ugh.

Photos courtesy of Fame/Flynet and WENN.

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68 Responses to “Kevin Clash’s statement: ‘I am a gay man, I had a relationship with the accuser’”

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  1. Rose says:

    Would we still say it’s creepy and gross if he was a 47 year old guy and the 18 year old was female? Think of Stodden…actually we do think that’s gross but they get a reality show out of it.

    • Londerland says:

      Or Sam Taylor-Wood and Aaron Johnson, for that matter. People are very keen to jump all over them. (I think people would find Doug and Courtney creepy as hell under any circumstances, together or apart, 18 or 80, they’re just so desperate. If she eventually turns out to be a 35-year-old fake, she’ll still be creepy.)

      I don’t think a 30 year age gap is automatically a bad thing, but when one of the participants is still a teenager – albeit technically, legally adult – it does ring some bells. Not that I think Clash is a paedophile, or even an ephebophile, but you do wonder about the power imbalance in such a relationship – what do a fortysomething and an eighteen-year-old have in common? Love of puppetry?

      It’s perfectly possible that both Clash and his accuser are being perfectly honest in their representation of their relationship. From his POV, he had a genuine relationship with a younger man, end of story. From the accuser’s POV, he must feel that he was taken advantage of by a trusted older man – and now that he’s older himself, he feels that it was wrong, and abusive. It’s sad, but possible.

    • T.C. says:

      I would think it’s creepy and gross if it was an 18 year old girl with a 47 year old man. I find Leo Dicarpio’s relationships with young women creepy. I have noticed that in gay relationships these large age gaps are more common. Much older men with young guys.

    • Kate (newer one) says:

      I commented on a recent story on those two (and the teacher who had a reality show after an affair with her student) that they needed jail time and therapy. God, I think Taylor Swift and her schoolkid ex is creepy, and she isn’t even 30 yet.

      It should be against the law for anyone over 25 to be in a relationship with anyone under 20, IMO. The potential for exploitation is just too immense.

  2. Riana says:

    I think parents have to be…conscientious.

    For those who didn’t know Clash was gay and think everything homosexual is ‘ewww’ perverted and etc. then this just feeds into their pre-conceived notions and yes…they will toss the dolls and likely write letters. Ugh.

    For other adults though, I think they’re more likely to wait and see. Cautious but optimistic and keep this from the kids as much as possible. We do have an openly gay and an openly bisexual individual in govt. so there’s hope for us yet.

    My little brothers never really fell in love with Sesame Street but I’d take that approach if a scandal broke out on say ‘Fresh Beat Band’. No rash decisions, give the person a chance to defend themselves since the accusations could be false.

  3. mel2 says:

    On the radio station this morning they reported that Joe Simpson prefers men in the 18-25 range. This is really sad.

  4. Djinn says:

    In many cases large age gaps are a bad idea but not always. If the accuser was of legal age then it’s no-one else’s business. Where I live a 16 year old can legally have sex with anyone they choose.

    • MrsBPitt says:

      I look at it this way…if this 16 year old was my son or daughter and some 40 something man or woman was having sex or even just showing interest…police would be involved…now what if this 16 year old had uninvolved or uninterested parents or for that matter no parents at all…then that is even worse because there is nobody looking out for them…this is wrong…I’m not sure if its legally wrong…but its morally wrong…

  5. ms. heart says:

    what does any of this have to do with Elmo? what the guy does in his private life short of criminal activity shouldn’t be anybody’s business. the accuser id full of shit. he had a thing with him for how many years and now he is going after Sesame Street. Pluezzzz!

    • sauce says:

      Being a Gay Ally does NOT mean being dismissive of potentially criminal conduct. Get that straight. The reason we do not victim blame is because it keeps future victims from speaking out for fear of this kind of victimisation.

      I am also disturbed by what seems to be stereotyping of the young gay male in your post. Like they are all hustlers out to trap and blackmail the noble much older male. The best path to equality must be to call out scuzzy behaviour regardless of orientation. And even more importantly to treat ALL alleged abuse victims with the same measure of empathy.

      As for me, I do find it strange that he was hanging out with a 16 year old but somehow found it in himself to wait till he was 18 years old to make a move. I give him the benefit of the doubt though with the same measure that I give his supposed victim.

      • ms. heart says:


        C’mon now. who is the victim here? he went after Sesame Street, not the individual because… $$$ and Scandal value. that’s just my opinion and I’m entitled to it. at 16 most teenagers are having sex and he had years.. yes, years to think this over. what exactly is he saying? what exactly is his accusation?

      • Isa says:

        If the alleged victim is falsely accusing clash then that does more harm to future victims speaking out.
        It seems more like a shakedown to me. He went to the man’s job instead of the police. He was in a relationship with him for 7 (alleged) years and now wants him to get in trouble? Everyone will be wondering why??

      • deehunny says:

        I agree with Heart. I too think that the young man was there for the $ and/or fame, like a lot of young lovers with older men or women. Has nothing to do with gay rights.

  6. judyjudy says:

    I’m so tired of sex scandals. Honestly…there are so many attractive, available people to have sex with on this planet. Why do so many people insist on sleeping with the ones who are young or already married? It never ends well.

  7. fabgrrl says:

    It’s like the Paul Ruebens (PeeWee Herman) scandal all over again! I can understand shock and disappointment, but we need to realize that actors are not their characters. They are adults who do adult things. This is the dark side of the Information Age – TMI!

    {I’m assuming that Clash is innocent until proven guilty. The accuser does sound rather sketch. While a 40-something person having a relationship with an 18 year old person is incredibly icky to me, it is none of my business.}

  8. Bluedog says:

    “I am taking a break from the Sesame workshop” until the press dies down and my bosses see if parents are quitting Elmo. Then my bosses will decide whether to fire me.

  9. Zigggy says:

    I have a two year old daughter who loves Elmo, and I have no problem with her continuing to love him. She knows nothing of Kevin Clash or his proclivities.

    • whatthehell456 says:

      ^^ This! Kids normally don’t associate Elmo with the puppeteer who controls him. To kids, he’s just a furry red guy.

    • icravefreshbrains says:

      this is exactly what I was going to say! My 6 year old has no idea who Clash is, what “gay” is, or heard the term “statutory rape”. He loves ELMO. The only way kids would be affected by this is is paranoid parents make it known.

    • MollyB says:

      Yes, I think it’s a little silly to say that Kevin Clash is “rockstar” to parents of toddlers. I never knew or even thought about who voiced Elmo until that documentary came out. And I can’t imagine more than a handful of preschool parents who are into indie films even saw that. I don’t see this having any impact on the popularity of Elmo or Sesame Street and if it does, they will simply replace him. Other than Carol Spinney (Big Bird), all of the original voice actors on Sesame Street have been replaced over the years. You can see Sesame Street already laying the groundwork for his replacement in their statement.

    • tmbg says:

      Elmo came on the show after my years of watching SS were over, but I never knew the voices behind my beloved characters. I vaguely knew who Jim Henson was, but all I cared about was what was on the screen in front of me – not who was doing the voices. That’s the magic of Sesame.

      I really do miss the Jim Henson years though. They were the best.

  10. aims says:

    there isn’t anything wrong with being gay. the choice of having such a young boyfriend is strange. i think he’s a lovely man, i also warched his documenting. he seems like a kind, smart, sweet guy. im holding out hope that his ex was over 18.

  11. Sloane Wyatt says:

    If Clash’s accuser was 18 at the beginning of their intimate relationship and lying about being underage, this is a shameless shakedown and a gay shaming attempt. I can easily see a scenario where this young man decided he wanted money from Kevin OR ELSE.

    If the accuser IS credible and has evidence, then of course Mr. Clash shouldn’t be in a child centric occupation.

    This kind of gossip is the worst. I’d like the facts to come out before the rush to publicize a private matter.

  12. littlemissnaughty says:

    I don’t get this at all. Why is it a scandal? Because of Elmo? Because the guy was very young? I’m going to assume that he was of age and then what exactly are we left with? Nothing. Yeah yeah, it’s “icky” and “gross”, fine. That’s a matter of opinion. But can we talk about James Woods then? Jerry Seinfeld had an episode of underage romance as well.
    Is that better because they were girls? I know it’s an arbitrary line I draw but I’ll take a guy in his late 40′s dating an 18-year-old over those two any day. 18 is my “okay-age”.

    And why did his employer release such a weird statement? So he violated company policy and was disciplined. We need to know this why?

    • Veruca says:

      And that’s what bothers me about the whole thing. If it was just a relationship, than simply do what he did today. Acknowledge the relationship and move on. I think it would have been a pearl-clutching moment of “Elmo’s gay?”, some late nights jokes, and forgotten in a week (because I don’t think anyone really cares).

      It’s the fact that he didn’t that makes me think there’s some truth to the matter.

    • fabgrrl says:

      I do believe that on this very site we have discussed, often, how icky and creepy most of us find James Woods and Jerry Seinfeld.

    • littlemissnaughty says:

      @ Veruca: I don’t understand. Did what he did today? When? Yesterday? Why would he randomly announce anything to the world? He “announced” it today and there’s not much more he could’ve or should’ve done earlier IF this is indeed harmless. Which we don’t know. I’m not saying the guy who accused him is lying, he could very well be telling the truth. But I was saying that IF he was 18, I don’t think there’s a point in making this a scandal.

      @fabgrrl: We have? I remember the odd mention of James Woods … a long time ago but Jerry Seinfeld? Yeah, most of us are in agreement that he’s a jerk but icky and gross in terms of dating behavior? I don’t remember that at all.

  13. Diva says:

    If he’s not doing anything illegal then I don’t care who he was involved with. Kids are going to still love Elmo and his personal life shouldn’t have anything to do with Elmo.

  14. Jackson says:

    Do kids who love Elmo even know who this guy is? Elmo is Elmo to them, not a puppet with some dude working him. I had never even heard of this guy before the story came out yesterday.
    The age difference is skeevy to me, but also skeevy is this younger guy being in a long term relationship and then running to the press about it when it apparently ended. I’ll be happy when this story goes away.

  15. Rux says:

    What does this have to do with Elmo?

    I just find it sketchy that this lover comes out NOW after seven years. I smell a gold digger.

  16. Gia says:

    As creepy as you think it may be, it’s one of our business. If the “accuser” was of legal age this is a non story. I feel sorry for the guy. He was hot for a young man and they got it on. Big deal. Straight men hook up with hot young girls all the time.

    • hoganbcmj says:

      I totally agree. If it’s legal, then there is no story here. People can pass moral judgment if they want, but there’s no reason to crucify the guy. Straight men do this all the time (sleep with or have relationships with much younger women), and while society may raise an eyebrow, they certainly accept it.

  17. Twez says:

    Somehow I hear the Jeff Winger character in the tv show Community: “Well, Shirley, since you’ve clearly failed to grasp the central insipid metaphor of those Twilight books you devour, let me explain it to you: Men are monsters who crave young flesh. The end.”

    I saw the documentary on Clash and he said that even when he makes appearances as Elmo, the kids don’t even acknowledge his presence. They interact with Elmo as a real being. I doubt if many parents of Sesame Street kids even realize who Kevin Clash is.

  18. MerryHappy says:

    I had no idea he was gay–in the documentary, he had a wife and teenaged daughter! This actually really surprised me. Being gay isn’t bad, I’m not saying that, I’m just surprised no ones mentioned his family! Apparently he and his wife divorced, but I’m still really surprised.

  19. Noel says:

    It annoys me that he was married and had a child and now he is proud to be gay!

  20. platynum says:

    what no one seems to be asking is why is his Partner now coming out with this. What could have possibly caused the breakdown.

  21. Ally says:

    Looks like Romney went after the wrong Sesame Street character…..lololol…ahem. Just a joke, folks.

  22. PoliteTeaSipper says:

    This is why I flipped out when my husband told me that he had dated a former student of his before we got together. “as long as its clear that there wasn’t a relationship when she was still my student, after she graduated at was 18 no one cared.” yeah, BUT this girl could say ANYTHING about him later on down the road and his career would be toast. I was horrified that when he was 28 he dated an 18 year old FORMER STUDENT in his band. Apparently in these small towns it’s kind of a wink wink nudge nudge– the other band director had a relationship with a student before he graduated, and nothing happened…they’re still together…but I don’t understand how any teacher could leave themselves vulnerable to an accusation like this. Once it’s been made, your career is tarnished, if not destroyed whither it’s true or not. I don’t know what happened in Kevin’s relationship but the truth always comes out. I will be praying for all parties concerned.

  23. PoliteTeaSipper says:

    This is why I flipped out when my husband told me that he had dated a former student of his before we got together. “as long as its clear that there wasn’t a relationship when she was still my student, after she graduated at was 18 no one cared.” yeah, BUT this girl could say ANYTHING about him later on down the road and his career would be toast. I was horrified that when he was 28 he dated an 18 year old FORMER STUDENT in his band. Apparently in these small towns it’s kind of a wink wink nudge nudge– the other band director had a relationship with a student before he graduated, and everyone looked the other way…they’re still together…but I don’t understand how any teacher could leave themselves vulnerable to an accusation like this. Once it’s been made, your career is tarnished, if not destroyed whither it’s true or not. I don’t know what happened in Kevin’s relationship but the truth always comes out. I will be praying for all parties concerned.

  24. BeesKnees says:

    My daughter loves Elmo. She has so many Elmo toys, clothes, cups, dvds, stuffed animals, whatever you can imagine. I would be nuts to throw that stuff away because of that. Now granted, I am a mom but not part of the “minivan majority.” Elmo is a puppet, my daughter has no idea someone is behind him or who Kevin Clash even is. As someone upthread mentioned, only Carole Spinney (Big Bird and Oscar) remains as the original puppeteer so if this turns into some huge scandal (which I doubt) and Clash needs to be replaced, Elmo will go on.

  25. Kim says:

    We will see. I have read the comments on more conservative sites and entertainment sites. He has three strikes against. him He’s Black, Gay and he was accused of having a relationship with an underage teenage boy who is rumored to be White. He is being called a creepy pervert because of the age difference. I don’t how he can go back to being Elmo.Time will tell.

  26. Guest says:

    The accuser has recanted his allegations. It will be interesting to not how this will impact Kevin Clash.I cannot wait to see the headlines; although I have a pretty idea how it will be reported.

  27. Jackie says:

    My daughter was a make a wish child. We actually flew to new york, and met elmo. Its true that kids ignore kevin clash.I hope that even though this scandal has happened that sesame street would take into consideration his many years as elmo and multiple muppets. In this day and age it shouldn’t matter that kevin is black, gay, and was in a relationship with a younger man. But of course it does.

    • Tivy says:

      One of the accusers stated he didn’t know the occupation of clash until he searched him on google one day. No matter what age he was he had consensual sex with this man and apparently liked it. He also states that he met him through a chatline. Most chat lines only except adults over the age of 18. The accuser could have very well lied about his age to sustain a relationship with an older man. Bottom line is that these boys see each other coming out one by one and realizing how much money they could be receiving from this settlement, they are not doing it because they believe that what he did was wrong and chances are he isn’t the only older man that they have had sexual relations with.

  28. won says:

    16 is legal age of consent in some places. I really don’t think 16 and 18 are that different.