Elmo voice actor takes leave amid underage sex allegation
By The Associated Press
NEW YORK -- The voice actor who portrays Elmo on "Sesame Street" is taking a leave of absence from the popular kids' show amid allegations he had a relationship with a 16-year-old boy.
Sesame Workshop says Kevin Clash denies the charges, which were first made in June by the alleged partner, who by then was 23.
In a statement issued Monday, Sesame Workshop said its investigation found the allegation of underage conduct to be unsubstantiated. But it said Clash exercised "poor judgment" and was disciplined for violating company policy regarding Internet usage. It offered no details.
At his request, Clash has been granted a leave of absence in order to "protect his reputation," Sesame Workshop says. No duration for the leave was specified.
Clash told TMZ: "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."
Clash has voiced and animated Elmo since the 1980s.