(NEW YORK) — The 23-year-old man who accused Kevin Clash, the man who has been the voice of Elmo on Sesame Street for nearly three decades, of having had a sexual relationship with him when he was a minor recanted the allegation Tuesday.
“He wants it to be known that his sexual relationship with Mr. Clash was an adult consensual relationship,” according to a statement issued by the unidentified man’s representative, Andreozzi & Associates. “He will have no further comment on the matter.”
Clash said he was relieved to put the “painful allegation” to rest and “will not discuss it further.”
No charges have been filed.
The alleged underage relationship was brought to the attention of Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization that produces the beloved children’s show, by the accuser, however, it was not made public until Monday.
Clash, who is on voluntary leave from Sesame Workshop, issued a statement Monday denying he’d had an inappropriate relationship with his accuser.
“I am a gay man. I have never been ashamed of this or tried to hide it but felt it was a personal and private matter. I had a relationship with the accuser. It was between two consenting adults, and I am deeply saddened that he is trying to characterize it as something other than what it was,” Clash said in a statement issued to ABC News.
“I am taking a break from Sesame Workshop to deal with this false and defamatory allegation,” he said.
Sesame Workshop said it took the allegation “very seriously” and had taken “immediate action,” but after an investigation, which included interviews with Clash and his accuser, found the claims to be “unsubstantiated.”
The investigation, however, did reveal that Clash and the man had been involved in a “personal relationship unrelated to the workplace” and that the puppeteer had exercised “poor judgment” on company email and was disciplined.
Clash, who is divorced and has one daughter, began using a falsetto voice in 1984 to bring life to the furry red monster. This year, Clash took home his 21st Emmy and the fourth in a row for “best performer in a children’s series” as Elmo.
In a statement, Sesame Workshop said, “Elmo is bigger than any one person and will continue to be an integral part of Sesame Street to engage, educate and inspire children around the world as it has for 40 years.”
Clash spoke to ABC News Nightline last year about his passion for puppets while promoting the documentary Being Elmo.
“I have Peter Pan syndrome, we call it,” Clash said.
After learning how to sew around age 9 or 10, Clash ended up making 80 puppets. At first he was teased for his passion, but the taunts faded after he became more and more famous, he said.
“‘You sleep with your puppets, you play with dolls,’ you know,” Clash said of being teased as a kid. “Then I did my first local television show and everybody thought ‘that’s cool,’ so that went away.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Brian Stelter, CNN Newswire
Frank Pallotta, CNN Newswire