Lawyer: Man recants story of accused Elmo puppeteer

Kevin Clash was accused of having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old boy. The victim, who is now 23 years old, is taking back the story.

NEW YORK - The man who accused Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash of having sex with him when he was a teen now says it isn't so.

The man is now saying his sexual relationship with Clash was adult and consensual.

"He wants it to be known that his sexual relationship with Mr. Clash was an adult consensual relationship," the law firm Andreozzi and Associates, who represent the man, told the New York Times in a statement.

In response to the statement Tuesday afternoon, Clash issued a statement of his own, saying he is "relieved that this painful allegation has been put to rest."

Sesame Workshop, which produces "Sesame Street," soon followed up by saying, "We are happy that Kevin can move on from this unfortunate episode."

On Monday, Sesame Workshop said Clash had taken a leave of absence from "Sesame Street" after allegations came to light that he had had a relationship with a 16-year-old. Clash denied the charges from the man, who is now 23.

The organization described the relationship as "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 said in a statement of his own. "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."

Sex with a person under 17 is a felony in New York if the perpetrator is at least 21. It was unclear where the relationship took place, and there is no record of any criminal charge against Clash in the state.

Clash, the 52-year-old divorced father of a grown daughter, added, "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 am taking a break from Sesame Workshop to deal with this false and defamatory allegation," he said.

In addition to his marquee role as Elmo, Clash also serves as the show's senior Muppet coordinator and Muppet captain.

He has won 23 daytime Emmy awards and one prime-time Emmy.

 

Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.