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.
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, 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.
The more damning part is that Clash allegedly sent emails to the young man from his Sesame Street account.
In it, Clash writes, “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.” He also mentions booking a ticket for the accuser to come to New York to “talk about this in person.”
Clash is divorced from his former-wife Genia, and has a daughter from that marriage named Shannon.
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