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Man who accused Elmo puppeteer of underage sex changes his story

A man who accused Kevin Clash of having sex with him when he was a teenage boy now says they had a consensual relationship as adults.

Image: Kevin Wolf/AP/Press Association Images

IN A QUICK turnabout, a man who accused Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash of having sex with him when he was a teenage boy now says they had a relationship as adults and it was consensual.

The man, who has not identified himself, released a statement yesterday through a law firm. It is not known why he made the accusation.

Sesame Workshop, which produces Sesame Street in New York, soon followed by saying:

We are happy that Kevin can move on from this unfortunate episode.

Clash also responded with a statement, saying he is “relieved that this painful allegation has been put to rest.” He had no further comment.

Neither Clash nor Sesame Workshop indicated when he might return to the show, on which he has performed as Elmo since 1984.

The episode began on Monday morning, when Sesame Workshop announced that Clash had taken a leave of absence from Sesame Street following allegations that he had had a relationship with a 16-year-old.

The 52-year-old divorced father of a grown daughter swiftly denied the charges of his accuser, who now is in his 20s. In that statement Clash acknowledged that he is gay but said the relationship had been between two consenting adults.

Though it remained unclear where the relationship took place, sex with a person under 17 is a felony in New York if the perpetrator is at least 21.

Sesame Workshop, which said it was first contacted by the accuser in June, had launched an investigation that included meeting with the accuser twice and meeting with Clash. Its investigation found the charge of underage conduct to be unsubstantiated.

Clash said on Monday he would take a break from Sesame Workshop “to deal with this false and defamatory allegation.”

Elmo had previously been a marginal character on Sesame Street, but Clash, supplying the fuzzy red puppet with a high-pitched voice and a carefree, child-like personality, launched the character into major stardom. Elmo soon rivaled Big Bird as the face of Sesame Street.

Though usually behind the scenes, Clash achieved his own measure of fame. In 2006, he published an autobiography, My Life as a Furry Red Monster, and he was the subject of the 2011 documentary Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey.

He has won 23 daytime Emmy awards and one prime-time Emmy.

Previously: Man behind Elmo denies allegations of underage relationship>

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Associated Press

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