Is Elmo another Jerry Sandusky?
Welcome to the saddest news story you’ll read this week. Love him or hate him, Elmo is the face of Sesame Street. The little red Muppet has become insanely popular over the last few decades, spawning must-buy toys and keeping the venerable educational program relevant. Most of his success is due to one man: puppeteer Kevin Clash, who started performing the character in 1984. With his falsetto voice and energetic mannerisms, Elmo quickly became a franchise star.
And now that all might be falling apart. The Daily Mail is reporting that Clash is being accused of having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a 16 year old boy. The accuser, now 23, has filed a lawsuit against Clash and the show. In his defense, Clash admits that the two did have a relationship, but it was only after the accuser was legally of age and consensual on both sides. This is somewhat interesting, as Clash wasn’t openly gay to my knowledge, and indeed had children from a previous relationship.
Sesame Workshop conducted an internal investigation of the accusations and say they found no proof that they were true, but Clash is still stepping away from the show for an undetermined period of time to devote himself to fighting them, hiring one of the law firms that represented Jerry Sandusky’s victims. Either way, this is an incredibly depressing story. If he’s guilty, then one of the most beloved childrens characters in the world is tainted. If he’s not, then some greedy dude just tried to destroy Sesame Street for a few pieces of silver.
Clash featured in the 2011 documentary Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey, which I’m sure tons of people are now combing through trying to find evidence of him creeping. You can watch the trailer below and make up your own mind.