Sesame Street is back in the news. First it was Big Bird that took focus during the campaign after Mitt Romney mentioned him during the first presidential debate when discussing what non-essential programmes he would cut, PBS being one of them.
Now we have Elmo in the spotlight, at least the voice behind tickle me Elmo. Voice actor Kevin Clash has been accused by a now 23-year-old man of having sexual relations with him when he was a 16-year-old kid while Clash was 45. Clash isn't denying that he had a relationship with the man, he admits he did, just not when the kid was 16.
So who to believe? And why did he come forward 7 years after the fact? It's not like he was a scared pre-teen. According to TMZ:
Sesame Workshop honchos tell TMZ ... "In June of this year, Sesame Workshop received a communication from a young man who alleged that he had a relationship with Kevin Clash beginning when he was 16-years-old. This was a personal relationship, unrelated to the workplace. We took the allegation very seriously and took immediate action."
Sesame Workshop officials acknowledge to TMZ they met with the accuser twice and had a number of other communications with him.
Sources with direct knowledge of the situation tell TMZ ... after the accuser's initial meeting with Sesame Street, the accuser felt Sesame Workshop's lawyers were trying to muzzle him ... so he lawyered up with Andreozzi and Associates -- the firm that represented one of the victims in the Jerry Sandusky child rape case.
On August 15, 2012 ... Andreozzi fired off a letter to Sesame, accusing the company of trying to "discredit the victim in order to protect its employee and the image of one of its most valuable characters," adding, "This approach places a greater value on a puppet than the well being of a young man."
Sesame Workshop officials tell TMZ ... they conducted a thorough investigation and determined the allegation of underage sex was unsubstantiated. They say they never tried to silence the accuser -- rather they asked for evidence supporting his claim, but he never produced it.
Officials also tell us they're suspicious because the accuser has an email which TMZ obtained -- purportedly sent to him by Clash, acknowledging they had the affair when he was 16. The officials say the accuser never mentioned such an email existed and they believe it's fraudulent.
But there were other emails between Clash and the accuser, and although they don't suggest there was underage sex, officials tell us they disciplined him for inappropriate use of company email.
As a result of the ongoing investigation, Clash has taken a leave of absence, but insists that the relationship "was between two consenting adults."
I don't care what happens in someone's bedroom, if it is indeed between consenting adults, that's their business. But if he was sexually involved with an underage boy, then something needs to be done.