From Mitt Romney's Big Bird budget cuts threats to child sex scandals, “Sesame Street” hasn’t seen that many sunny days lately.
Kevin Clash—aka the life behind PBS mini-Muppet Elmo—has been caught in a whirlwind of headline drama after being accused of having sexual relations with a male minor. Following accusations, the puppeteer has left the series on a leave of absence.
News broke when a 23-year-old man approached the network, claiming that he and Clash were sexually involved. The relationship, the accuser says, began when the man was 16.
“We took the allegation very seriously and took immediate action,” a statement from Sesame Workshop to Hollyscoop reads. “We met with the accuser twice and had repeated communications with him.”
Why the man waited seven years to bring this up is unclear. According to the children’s show, though, the man’s claims are weightless.
“We met with Kevin, who denied the accusation,” the children’s show’s statement continues. “We also conducted a thorough investigation and found the allegation of underage conduct to be unsubstantiated.”
Clash has since spoken up to TMZ, denying that he had an affair with a minor, but not denying the relationship in full…
"I had a relationship with [the accuser],” he told the celebrity news site. “It was between two consenting adults and I am deeply saddened that he is trying to make it into something it was not."
Sesame Workshop's investigation did turn up some dirt on the puppet master. According to their statement Kevin, “exercised poor judgment and violated company policy regarding Internet usage and he was disciplined.”
Meanwhile, the accuser has lawyered up with Andreozzi and Associates—the same firm that repped one of the victims in the now infamous Jerry Sandusky case involving child rape.
According to reports, the accuser feels bullied by “Sesame Street,” his team claiming that the children’s show giant is working to "discredit the victim in order to protect its employee.”
This has all the ingredients for the next high-profile public shame-fest. Or, if the claims are truly unfounded, it could blow over in a day.
We’ll keep you posted. For now, today’s episode will be brought to you by the letter “S” for scandal.
For Elmo, at least, the show will go on…
“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,” Sesame Workshop adds.