The statement originally made against the Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash has been recanted, the Associated Press reports.
Repeat, Kevin Clash, the puppeteer who has voiced the iconic furry red Elmo since 1984, no longer faces allegations that he had a relationship with a 16-year-old.
In June, the workshop heard from a 23-year-old man who claimed that he had “a relationship” with Clash beginning when he was 16 years old, the workshop said in a statement posted on its website Monday.
The statement did not use the word “sexual.”
“Kevin insists that the allegation of underage conduct is false and defamatory and he is taking actions to protect his reputation. We have granted him a leave of absence to do so,” the Sesame Street Workshop statement said.
“We took the allegation very seriously and took immediate action. We met with the accuser twice and had repeated communications with him. We met with Kevin, who denied the accusation. We also conducted a thorough investigation and found the allegation of underage conduct to be unsubstantiated. 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 Sesame Street Workshop statement said.
Clash did acknowledge in a statement that he had a relationship with the accuser, but noted that “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.”
“I am taking a break from Sesame Workshop to deal with this false and defamatory allegation.”