The puppeteer who voices the Sesame Street character Elmo has been granted a
leave of absence from the long-running children's show in the midst of an
allegation that he had a past relationship with a 16-year-old boy.
The Sesame Workshop issued a statement Monday saying that it first learned
about the allegation against 52-year-old Kevin Clash last June by a then
23-year-old man who claimed to have begun a relationship with Clash when he was
16. Clash has denied the allegation.
RELATED: Sneak Peek of Documentary Being Elmo
"We took the allegation very seriously and took immediate action," the
statement said. "We met with the accuser twice and had repeated communications
with him. We met with Kevin, who denied the accusation."
The Sesame Workshop said it conducted its own investigation and found the
allegation of underage conduct to be unsubstantiated, but it did determine that
Clash violated policy."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.
VIDEO: Flashback - Destiny's Child on Sesame Street
The statement said the leave of absence was granted to allow Clash to take
actions to protect his reputation from what he calls the "false and defamatory"
allegation of underage conduct.
Related stories on ETonline.com: Walters
on Lohan: 'She Has A Lot of Problems'