There’s some drama over at Sesame Street. Kevin Clash, best known as the voice of the beloved children’s character Elmo, has been accused of having a relationship with a 16-year-old boy. Although Clash vehemently denies the accusations, he has taken a leave of absence from the show to concentrate on defending himself against the charges.
The claim of underage sex comes from a 23-year-old man who recently met with lawyers from Sesame. He says that he and Clash began an intimate relationship seven years ago, when the young man was just 16 and Clash was 45. According to the voice actor and puppeteer, the two did have a relationship, but it was only after the man was of legal age.
From the looks of it, this battle is already going to get ugly. The man accusing Clash felt like the Sesame lawyers were trying to keep him quiet, so he retained legal aid. Specifically, he went to Andreozzi and Associates, a firm that represented one of the victims in the Jerry Sandusky case. Those lawyers have already scolded Sesame Workshop for their supposed mishandling of the case. In August, they sent a letter to Sesame accusing them of trying to “discredit the victim in order to protect its employee and the image of one of its most valuable characters,” adding, “This approach places a greater value on a puppet than the well being of a young man.”
Sesame says that they took the claim very seriously. They were simply waiting for proof of the relationship before taking further steps. Kevin Clash spoke to TMZ and said, ”I had a relationship with [the accuser]. It was between two consenting adults and I am deeply saddened that he is trying to make it into something it was not.”
Whether the allegations prove to be true or not, Clash has already admitted to having a relationship with a partner 29 years his junior. That’s sure to get plenty of people talking. And given how much people love to find adult scandal in something meant for children, I don’t think this case will be going away anytime soon. In fact, I’m already a little nervous about the inappropriate Twitter hashtags that are sure to start floating around.
Undoubtedly, the entire “Elmo” aspect of this case will make it ripe for satire. Just look at the success of Avenue Q to see that people love inappropriate puppets. But it’s also a very serious case. If Clash did begin a relationship with an underage boy, there definitely needs to be punishments for that. What’s more, if true, the situation isn’t funny. It’s sad. And that young man will deserve to have his case treated with respect. Let’s hope that we can all remember that when the inevitable late night monologues and SNL sketches start rolling in.