The reason for Clash’s decision to step back from the program is confusing because the alleged incident took place as long as seven years ago. The boy, who is now 23, come forward with the allegations earlier this year.
Clash maintains that the relationship was consensual and that the youth was of legal age at the time. In New York State the age of consent for sex with an adult is 17-years-old.
Clash was 45-years-old at the time, according to gossip site TMZ.
An investigation by the Sesame Workshop, which produces the show for public television stations, said the allegations that Clash engaged in underage sex could not be substantiated. But it did find that Clash exercised poor judgment.
“Although this was a personal relationship unrelated to the workplace, our investigation did reveal that Kevin exercised poor judgment and violated company policy regarding internet usage and he was disciplined,” the company said in a statement.
“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,” the 52-year-old puppeteer told TMZ.
Although Bert and Ernie have long been rumored to be gay, this is the first allegation of homosexuality involving Elmo, who will continue on the show.
“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,” the workshop said in a statement.
Whew! Sesame Street characters have had a rough go of it recently. Only a few weeks ago Big Bird was dodging bullets from GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who vowed to pull the plug on public television and singled out the big yellow guy.