Kevin Clash’s accuser recants, relationship ‘was between 2 consenting adults’

Ugh. One of the most uncomfortable scandals of the year has been put to bed (so to speak). That was a fast one! It only lasted 48 hours. On Monday, TMZ reported that Kevin Clash – the voice and puppeteer of Elmo – had been accused of having an “inappropriate” sexual relationship with a 16 year old. The guy accusing Clash is currently 23 years old, and said that he and Clash had a sexual relationship for seven years. Clash denied the claims that he and the dude were sexually involved when the dude was underage. Clash also made a statement in which he came out of the closet (if he was ever really in the closet?) and that he was going to fight back against the claims. Sesame Street agreed to put Clash on leave/suspension while everyone figured out what to do next.

Then a bunch of stuff happened yesterday. TMZ got their hands on alleged emails sent between Clash and this young guy, with Clash allegedly writing, “I’m sorry that I keep talking about sex with you, its driving me insane. I want you to know that I love you and I will never hurt you. I’m here to protect you and make sure your dreams come true. I’ll have my assistant book a ticket for you to come to NY and we can talk about this in person.” Ugh. Then late Tuesday, the New York Times reported that the dude has now recanted his story and has issued a statement saying that he and Clash had an “adult consensual relationship”.

The man who accused Kevin Clash, the voice and puppeteer of the “Sesame Street” character Elmo, of an underage sexual relationship has recanted that claim, his lawyer said on Tuesday. The reversal came a day after the claim was first published by the gossip Web site TMZ.

Mr. Clash has taken a leave of absence from Sesame Workshop, the organization that produces “Sesame Street,” to challenge the allegations. Andreozzi & Associates, a law firm that said it represented the accuser said in a statement that “he wants it to be known that his sexual relationship with Mr. Clash was an adult consensual relationship.” The statement added, “He will have no further comment on the matter.”

The accuser’s identity has not been disclosed.

Mr. Clash said through a spokeswoman: “I am relieved that this painful allegation has been put to rest. I will not discuss it further.”

Sesame Workshop had no immediate comment on when Mr. Clash would return to work. But the organization said in a statement Tuesday afternoon, “We are pleased that this matter has been brought to a close, and we are happy that Kevin can move on from this unfortunate episode.”

On Monday, TMZ said that the accuser, now 24 years old, contacted Sesame Workshop last summer and claimed that, beginning at the age of 16, he had a sexual relationship with Mr. Clash.

The news threw one of the most trusted preschool properties into turmoil as Sesame Workshop moved quickly to protect its “Sesame Street” brand, estimated by Forbes to be worth more than $500 million.

Officials at Sesame Workshop said that they thoroughly investigated the accusation, using outside investigators, over several months and believe it to be false. Mr. Clash’s leave was granted Sunday after it became clear that the Web site TMZ was planning to run an article about the accusation.

Mr. Clash said in a statement on Monday that the relationship “was between two consenting adults” — something that the accuser seemed to admit on Tuesday afternoon.

Mr. Clash has achieved a measure of fame outside the show as the star of the 2011 documentary “Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey.” The episode led to Mr. Clash coming out as a gay man, something he had not previously said in public. “I have never been ashamed of this or tried to hide it, but felt it was a personal and private matter,” he said in the statement.

Harvey Levin, the editor of TMZ, did not respond to a request for comment about its decision to run with the unproven allegations of underage sex.

[From The NYT]

Levin probably chose not to comment because TMZ was about to publish their juicy piece of gossip about the dude’s recant. TMZ’s sources claim: “It’s unclear why the accuser suddenly changed his story … but sources close to the situation tell TMZ … the accuser’s attorney had been meeting with Clash’s attorney as recent as an hour ago, discussing a financial settlement and 6-figures were on the table.” So was the recant just a public blackmail of a beloved children’s entertainer? Or did Clash pay-off his formerly underage victim? Ugh. This story still makes me so uncomfortable, but I guess it’s over now. Hopefully.

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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86 Responses to “Kevin Clash’s accuser recants, relationship ‘was between 2 consenting adults’”

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  1. paranormalgirl says:

    So why the need to keep the accuser’s name a secret? If he made a very public false accusation, his name should be plastered all over the place as a warning that this guy is a grifter.

  2. mln76 says:

    What a sleazy situation and just my opinion but if he knew him when he was 16 I tend to believe there was at the very least ‘grooming’ going on until he was of age. He should have written the check on the first place.

    • Cinamon says:

      Absolutely this.

      It was the email snippets that just completely turned me off. Where first he apologises for all the sex talk, which probably indicates that the recipient had expressed discomfort or at the very least Clash was aware of how inappropriate the conduct was. Next he is telling this 16 or 18 year old how he just wants to make all his dreams come true and oh his assistant will send a ticket to NY so that they can discuss these dreams. Even if this boy was legal, a kid that age would believe that a rich & feted 48 year old could actually make all his dreams come true. Perhaps even more so if this kid was struggling to come out or had come out to his family and been rejected. It strikes me as a highly exploitative thing to say to someone without any reference point from which to judge that statement. Its todays equivalent of, “I will marry you, now just sleep with me”.

      I keep reading how wonderful this guy is based on the documentary as if a documentary, even a well made one, would reveal whether one was pedarast or whatever. In any case, dodgy guys are not dodgy all the time. In fact all anectdotal evidence shows that these guys are often well loved precisely because they learn to blend in.

      On a different note, we know that child predators gravitate towards child-centric jobs so it would not surprise me if they were a few pedophiles in the Sesame Street stable. What I would want to know is what measures the Management takes to protect kids on set, you know limiting unsupervised contact etc.

  3. Apsutter says:

    This whole situation makes me sick. Yes it is creepy for a much older person to be dating a teenager but if it was legal its really no ones business. Considering how fast this was resolved I’m willing to bet it was just a cash grab by the accuser. They only recently broke up so he was probably the jilted lover and he knew where to hit Kevin where it hurt the most. The whole scandal feels icky and sad.

    • but do I say says:

      Hmmmm. I take a different view. It probably was a money grab. But that doesnt preclude the possibility that he was underage at the time. Nor does it mean that he was not damaged by the contact, in fact it is probably evidence that he was damaged just by the sheer fact of how vicious it was to go public with the accusation.

      The kid may not even realise he was a victim in the real sense. It took me many years to realise the damage that my 35 year old boyfriend had wrecked in my life. How damaged he must have been to be hanging around a 17 year old high school kid. How isolated a relationship of that kind leaves a kid, because it has by necessity to be secret. How I believed promises that I would now take as hyperbole and the many trust issues I developed when he couldnt deliver the rainbows he had promised.

      The coordinated statements are also quite telling. The wording of Kevins statement in particular. That is not the statement of a man appalled by the accusations and keen to clear his name. Its a statement crafted by a lawyer to admit as little possible in as impersonal a fashion as possible.

      Anyway I have no effs to give for a 50 year old “promising to make the dreams of an 18 year old come true” to secure sex. None. Bring on the new Elmo.

      • Camp Mullah says:

        I hate to see a talented man of color fall, my sons need all the role models they can get, but sometimes you just gotta let them go. What was this fool thinking? 16 and 18 same difference for a 50 year old dude. Shaking my head at people arguing about semantics like legal at 17. No grown 50 year old man should be eyeing a boy that young, I dont care if they are illegal or “barely legal”. You play with fire you get burned. Let the Damn Fool carry his cross.

    • Kim says:

      The email is dated 2010 so the accuser was 21

  4. silken_floss says:

    The damage is done. Mr. Clash should sue him for libel and slander. This false accusation has ruined Kevin’s reputation.

  5. Launicaangelina says:

    This whole thing makes me sad. If the accuser truly made false claims, he is seriously horrible. It’s not just what he has to done to Kevin Clash’s personal and professional reputation, but this also affects legitimate claims made by real victims.

  6. Lucy says:

    This is the second time this week someone has been falsely accused of child abuse. These people who are accusing are making it difficult for to catch these disgusting creatures, also can the media please refrain from naming all parties involved until there is a solid evidence please it’s making it difficult for all involved, these trials by the Internet are ruining peoples reputation and putting others at risk of law suits.

  7. Joanna says:

    I think the accuser was trying to make some money off his relationship. and clash paid him off just to get rid of him, not necessarily b/c he had done anything wrong. clash’s lawyer prob told him it was better to do this and nip the situation in the bud, instead of letting it drag on.

  8. Kim says:

    As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse I’m bothered by victims who decide getting paid takes priority over seeking justice. Go to police and then you can Sue.If this allegation is true then Clash will never be held accountable for a criminal act.Since the man recanted he should be identified since he claims there was abuse therefore he is not a victim.

    • apsutter says:

      Exactly. Victims who are actually seeking retribution for being abused don’t automatically go the route of suing the person. It debases others who are actually grappling with the aftermath of an abusive situation. Criminal case first then civil. It makes me highly suspect when they go after the cash first.

    • Miss Kiki says:

      Totally agree. I’ve never been abused but I would like to hope that if I had been and decided to bring it to the attention of the relevant people that no amount of money would make me skulk back into the shadows.

    • Viv says:

      Very sorry to hear that and thanks for speaking out. Thank you

    • littlemissnaughty says:

      Exactly. Why do these people go public and go for the money? It leaves a bad taste and there will always be the doubt that this was nothing but a shakedown, especially if they recant. And then other victims will have it so much harder because it really doesn’t matter anymore if this guy was really a victim. He yelled fire, got paid (probably), and recanted. Great. Now what? Does it mean abusers can pay off their victims? Does it mean an allegation is enough to be paid off? None of these are good messages to send.

      Go to the police, do it without involving frickin’ TMZ, and then by all means, sue the person afterwards. As far as I know, the percentage of false allegations of sexual abuse are very very small when you look at statistics but whenever something like this happens, it makes it seem like people falsely accuse others all the time. Ugh. Bad bad message to send.

      • Victoria says:

        The whole thing is suspect! It really does make real victims look bad while the real villains get off free because they opened their wallets. It’s very upsetting, whatever the true story is.

        I wonder what sesame street will do now, are they going to have clauses in their contracts and step up security for minors?

  9. mel2 says:

    I looked up Kevin Clash’s salary and dude makes approximately $12 million a year so whatever the payoff was was wont put a dent in Clash’s pocket.

    • emmie_a says:

      It might not put a dent in his pocketbook but it has ruined Kevin Clash’s reputation and now I’ll think of this whenever I see or hear Elmo (at least for now). It’s a huge blow for the innocent Sesame Street brand.

    • gg says:

      I sure hope he’s invested it all because he’s out of a job, a career and a livelihood.

      Worse is this type of shakedown gives homophobes fodder for their belief that gay men are wont to abuse little boys more often than not, which is untrue.

      I feel like the way it was handled, it was true. In which case, why did Kevin think he was untouchable? Cameras following him around for a year or so to make that documentary thrust him in the public eye. And why did he think it was cool to discuss sex with anybody on a work computer owned by Sesame Street, a children’s program, for pete’s sake? This alone makes me give him the side eye. Between this, and the Petraeus scandal – why can’t anybody keep it in their damn pants anymore? Jeeze.

  10. Annie says:

    IMO, it sounds like he really was 18 at the time, but said 16 at first for the attention. Still, 18 and 47 is super creepy, not pedophilia (even 16, though illegal isn’t technically pedophilia), but still, really creepy and predatory. ia there was probably some grooming going on at 16. This is just as weird as Courtney and Doug.

  11. Erinn says:

    Yeah… I don’t know. I feel like this actually got sketchier since it went away. Especially because there was supposed to be some money on the table. Maybe it isn’t true, and Clash just paid the guy what he wanted and made him shut up so it’d be over with. But maybe it was true. Guess we’ll never know.

    I was watching TMZ live online the other day, and I remember Harvey re-iterating that they couldn’t say the charges were legitimate… and kept saying they’re ‘alleged’, so I don’t think it was a case of him wanting it to be true so he could publish a story.

  12. Chatcat says:

    “I’m here to protect you and make sure your dreams come true.” This is from a middle aged man to a 16 year boy! He may be of “legal” consent age but this this nothing short of predatory and pedofilic. As if THAT isn’t disturbing enough, there are people defending the “relationship”.

  13. Brookie says:

    The e-mail was sent two years ago… When the guy was 21… You can’t groom a 21 yr old.

  14. truetalk says:

    if that e-mail was truly from Clash when the boy was 16, then there was definitely grooming going on then and i think it’s exploitative and he should still be persecuted by the law.

  15. Sam says:

    While I think its good that he’s not going to face any kind of criminal charges, his reputation is still going to take a major hit. Firstly, he’s had to out himself as a gay man under less than good circumstances. Secondly, plenty of people are still going to find it awfully creepy that he was involved with a young man who (even at 18) was less than half his age. I don’t think, personally, that he’ll ever go back to playing Elmo.

  16. Diva says:

    People should get in trouble for false accusations. Sounds like this was all about money. Stories like this make it hard for REAL victims to come forward.

    • mama grizzly says:

      People do get in trouble for this kind of thing but they need to be reported or sued by their victim. Clash isnt reporting or suing though so what can that mean? Its possible that the kid is telling the truth but also exploiting it for a pay check. Its also possible that the kid was harmed by the relationship but thinks securing his future is the best “payback”.

      I hope they keep the diversity in the cast but I believe they should replace him. Legal or not, this is seriously poor judgement. I would smack him if that was my child.

  17. Lee says:

    There’s a major ick factor all around. I don’t care what someone’s sexual orientation is, I don’t want to even think about anyone EVER having sex of any kind when I think about a child-centered program like Sesame Street. In fact, for me, from now on, this story will come to mind whenever Sesame Street comes up – on TV, in a toy store – wherever. I hope that the Sesame Street brass learns that there is danger in allowing their puppeteers to have ANY measure of fame. This guy’s documentary (which I’ve seen) made it possible for this whole scandal to erupt. If he’d been completely anonymous to the larger public, it’s possible this would not have made the same kind of headlines, and perhaps not damaged the Sesame Street/Elmo brand the way that it has.

  18. LeeLoo says:

    My theory about this allegation: Accuser and Kevin had a 5 year relationship going on and they break up. Dude decided to use the fact they may have known each other before he was 18 against him because he was bitter the relationship ended and Kevin probably unceremoniously kicked him to the curb. This accuser probably felt like he deserved a cut of Kevin’s money and made an accusation that he knew Kevin would want to quiet immediately. I doubt these accusations were true, but it was in Kevin’s and Sesame Street’s best interest to make them go away immediately. I think the accuser went to great lengths to extort money from Kevin. There were some serious questions about the legitimacy of the emails. I also think TMZ should never have ran the story without further proof.

    The one thing that bothers me is that somehow people are equating Kevin’s sexual orientation and scandals to Elmo. While Kevin brings Elmo to life people would do better to leave the two separate. The character of Elmo should not have to suffer. If this does become an issue of people unable to separate the actor from the character than I think Sesame Street’s needs to be finding someone to replace Clash. Saving Elmo and separating him from this incident should be Sesame Street’s #1 priority.

    • Lolani says:

      What I dont get is why anybody can be so certain that this started at age 18. So this 48 year old is just hanging around a 16 year old counting the clock to his 18th? What are they doing in the meantime, talking about his favourite subject at school?

      And this 48 year old has such poor self control and judgement that he sends innapropriate emails on his Sesame Street Email but then somehow has the self-cotrol and judgement to hang out with the boy for 2 years and not touch him till his eighteenth birthday. Bish Puhleaaaaze!

      • LeeLoo says:

        Last I heard there were some serious questions about the legitimacy of those emails. So unless someone proved those emails to be legit, I see no evidence that anything happened.

        Look, in no way am I saying a man in his mid 40s should be hanging out or communicating with a 16 year old that is not his child. I think it is inappropriate but nothing says it is against the law. I need hard evidence before I will say this man comitted a crime. I will not condemn him based on gossip and hearsay for some serious crimes that could affect his very livlihood.

      • gin&tonic says:

        The only email that is being doubted is one sent before the boy turned 18. That email has to the best of my knowledge not been reproduced in the media.

        The emails in the media have all been authenticated though. In fact they were authenticated by Sesame Street, read the NYT pieces. The guy was actually disciplined for using the company email to write his love letters to his boytoy.

        I can see how conjecture could be drawn here. Someone with so little good sense cant then claim to have the good sense to wait 2 years. It doesnt matter now though, money solves all problems and his problems have apparently already been solved. Money. Money. Money. I need some.

  19. Mourning the Death of Music says:

    “Or did Clash pay-off his formerly underage victim?”

    I really don’t like this sentence, because it suggests that they unwillingly and unknowingly got into a sexual relationship. Further suggesting the possibility of rape/molestation.

    And even if the person were 16, that doesn’t mean they were a victim. Someone can be just as devious and conniving at 16 (underage) as 18 (legal age). They can also be just as responsible, decisive, and fully aware of the possible consequences of their decisions.
    (I’m not suggesting the accuser is devious, just making an analogy.)

    I don’t trust the emails. I am not about to judge the situation at all considering what little to no information we’ve really been given on the matter.

    • Rafas Bride says:

      It is my sincerest hope that you do not work in law enforcement. What a dangerous mindset you have!

    • FionaOrig says:

      thats one slippery slope you build in your second paragraph.

      but why stop at 16? are there no 15 year olds “who have a sense of awresponsible, decisive, and fully aware of the possible consequences of their decisions”. how about 14 year olds who are “devious and conniving”? while we are at it arent there 13 year olds who set out to ‘seduce older men, even their own dads’?

      this determination to defend some childhood hero should not leave other juveniles vulnerable. i may be undecided on this case but your comment makes me mad.

      • Mourning the Death of Music says:

        Alright, let me make a few points quite clear: I am in no way defending some “childhood hero”. I am fully capable and do separate Mr. Clash (and what he does with his personal life) from that of his work.

        I don’t know all the facts so I’m not jumping to an opinion.
        I’m not going to suggest the accuser is money grabbing, I’m not going to suggest he’s a victim either.

        I think it is wildly inappropriate of you to compare a 13 year old to the actions and choices of a 16 year old.
        Each individual human grows and matures at their own pace. Having said that, a 16 year old is, by average, typically far more mature and developed over that of a 13 year old, so it is a rather unfair comparison and a bit extreme on your part to try and say that to prove some point.

        In my personal opinion, 16, 17, and 18 are a hazy area of maturity and development with only the law to dictate that 18 is the “legal adult age”. In other countries, it is 16. – but now I’m starting to sound like I’m splitting hairs.

        My initial issue with the statement: “Or did Clash pay-off his formerly underage victim?” – suggests that if the accuser were actually 16 when this occurred, that he was in some way a victim. That he in some way was unable to make fully formed decisions for himself based solely on the fact that he was 16 (underage by American law).

        You’re mad at my comment. So be it. I still stand behind it. Having four sons of my own, I see how each of them have a different level of maturity at a specific age in comparison to the other. My oldest son, when 16 was just as mature and making responsible decisions for himself as he does now at 18. That 2 year different didn’t change too much for him. Now, when the others reach that point in their lives, I may not be able to make the exact same statement. That’s just how it is.

      • DebbieLiz says:

        I think you are missing what your critics are saying. Did your son became mature and responsible on the day he hit sixteen and not a second before? Are there no fifteen year olds who have achieved the same maturity? Thats why your thinking is being called dangerous.

        The law should never care about the so called maturity of a child. Its impossible to measure that. And who knows how far the argument could be stretched. Have you never heard a convicted molester claim that that twelve year old was very mature for her age so it wasnt so bad?

        And this argument that some jurisdictions allow this and others allow that, is weak. There are many jurisdictions that marry off their girls by age fourteen, will you be quoting those to us next?

        The only law that matters is the law of the State in which you live. That law is applied without regard to so-called maturity hence the term “statutory rape”.

        For your information the APA has stated that a childs brain does not complete maturation until its early twenties. This is why even if a teen is sexually active it shouldnot be with someone so much older as to exploit the growing process. And however you cut it, a rich, successful, famous fifty year old presents insurmountable inequalities for a still maturing mind barely out of adolescence.

  20. Anon says:

    There are quite a few older men getting caught up in relationships with younger suitors via email. Lessons learned, imho.
    I believe Kevin Clash.. as the recanting, time stamp and puppeteers being in the news. TMZ really hasn’t been doing a brisk business since Mel Gibson quieted down. :) Harvey Levin loves to get $omething on anyone. I’m trying to remember what was said about Levin and all those young men he employs a few years ago, something about drugs in the office, too.
    Long live Elmo and Sesame Street.

  21. Rafas Bride says:

    I keep thinking what if this was my son/daughter. A 50 year old with an 18 year old or younger? Shame on him.

  22. Itsa says:

    I thought the authorities had said that the email was a fake? I don’t want to pass judgement on someone based on an email that isn’t authentic.

  23. Gittah says:

    You are wrong. This email is not disputed. The one that is being questioned was not published by TMZ.

    But even going away from the email. Lets deal with Kevin Clash admissions. A 50 year old man befrend a 16 year old boy. Why?

    Then later sleep with him at 18 year old.

    Sends flirty emails to him from the office which Sesame TV has said they had to punish him!

    Then after the break up the boy asked for blackmail money and the 50 year old did not report to police. Why not?

    These are bad signs proving a bad humanbeing.

  24. muppet_barbershop says:

    Some young people have a thing for older people. We know the opposite is true, but it’s important to remember that it occurs in both directions, and is not always a power thing. It’s another type of orientation, almost. A sixteen-year-old has their own valid sexuality, and also has a right to figure out what s/he wants. Even if they befriended when the younger guy was 16 and Kevin was in his 40s, having an intimate relationship once the younger man was at the age of consent is NOT inherently wrong. I certainly understand why it is discomforting, but that doesn’t make it wrong.

    Not talking to the police about it doesn’t prove bad humanity, but rather a desire for privacy unless things got to a worse level of “trouble.”

    I also would have thought this situation with Clash was too yucky to accept, once upon a time. But my brother is 41 and dates much younger women (always 18 plus!), and I’ve learned that the women concerned are seeking what they want, just as he is. It’s a tricky area for most of us to tolerate. That does not mean that badness is automatically part of the area.

    • gin&tonic says:

      Here we go with the kids sexuality is valid and they have a right to explore it. I wondered how long it would take for that NAMBLA nonsense to rear its head.

      NAMBLA for the uninitiated stands for National Association for Man Boy Love. And it advocates for exactly what you think it does. And guess what, if you apply that argument on a 16 year old, it must also apply to a 15, 14, 13, 12 whatever year old.

      Human sexuality experts generally agree that exploration of sexuality should be restricted to people around the same age. There are an insane number of studies of the harm caused when children explore with grown adults. There are some countering studies but look into the funding, I dare you to find one not sponsored by NAMBLA or their surrogates. Just one….. I will be waiting.

      Its disturbing how these people emerge on stories like this. They were all over HuffPo yesterday until someone started calling them out. Scientologists have nothing on this people

    • DebbieLiz says:

      Sadly its easier for some to excuse appaling behaviour from loved ones than to admit that that behaviour is questionable and maybe even slightly disturbed.

  25. Malkia says:

    “if he was ever really in the closet?”

    He absolutely was closetted. I know he implies that he never was but thats barefaced lie.

    I went to school with Gennie his ex. Later we kind of moved in the same circles. My friend and I were just this morning discussing the rumor that went around when she filed for divorce. It was said that she had “caught him with a boy”. It was so persistant my mother asked me about it. I think boy referred to a young adult and not actual child btw. This was in the 2000s. We drifted apart after her divorce, actually she completely shut everyone including her cousins out. She was clearly devastated and probably couldnt even confide in anyone about it. My heart just bleeds for that lovely woman wherever she is.

    And allow me to commit some blasphemy here. I know he has some fans but he really wasnt a very nice guy. I believe people who actually know him would agree.

  26. Stacia says:

    You know what they say…”Pervs will frolic where children play.” I just made that saying up, but its true. The pervy and the pedos will tend to get involved in careers that involve being around kids. Gross- even if the guy was 18…still gross. I will never look at Elmo the same again.

  27. KellyinSeattle says:

    The only one I care about here is Elmo…

  28. nekkie says:

    this kind of puts a new spin on my niece’s first baby boy’s ELMO themed Birthday party. Sometimes I hate the Interntet.

  29. Ethel says:

    Funny, when my daughter who is now 23 was growing up she was told to never go with anyone unless they said the “safe” word. “Elmo” may not be such a safe word after all.