NEW YORK — The puppeteer who performs as Elmo on “Sesame Street” is taking a leave of absence from the popular kids’ show in the wake of allegations that he had a relationship with a 16-year-old boy.
Sesame Workshop said puppeteer Kevin Clash denies the charges, which were first made in June by the alleged partner, who by then was 23.
“We took the allegation very seriously and took immediate action,” Sesame Workshop said in a statement issued Monday. “We met with the accuser twice and had repeated communications with him. We met with Kevin, who denied the accusation.”
The organization described the relationship as personal and “unrelated to the workplace.” 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.
“I had a relationship with (the accuser),” Clash told TMZ. “It was between two consenting adults and I am deeply saddened that he is trying to make it into something it was not.”
At his request, Clash has been granted a leave of absence in order to “protect his reputation,” Sesame Workshop said.