Word on “the street” is not good for Kevin Clash, the voice of Elmo. Clash was arrested is facing charges for allegedly having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old boy. Clash insists that the accused, now 23, was 18 when they started having an intimate relationship. Truth be known, I always thought it would be tightly wound Bert who ended up in the slammer. Notably, it was the Show that appears to have reported Clash.[UPDATE: The accuser, who remains nameless, has recanted his allegations].
The alleged victim says that Clash engaged in sexual acts with him when he was 16 and Clash was 45.
The case is interesting in that the accused went to the Sesame Workshop to report that alleged crime. Clash appears to have taken the position that this is a relationship gone bad and the accuser is pre-dating their intimate relationship out of spite.
The program stated that “In June of this year, Sesame Workshop received a communication from a young man who alleged that he had a relationship with Kevin Clash beginning when he was 16-years-old. This was a personal relationship, unrelated to the workplace. We took the allegation very seriously and took immediate action.”
The show stressed that the show will go on and that “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.” That appears to suggest that they do not consider him a witness or, worst yet, a giggling accomplice.
The challenge for the defense in such a case is obviously the optics. “Tickle Me, Elmo” takes on a more sinister meaning in a criminal case. For that reason, defense counsel might try to keep Clash’s job out of the trial with a pre-trial motion as inherently prejudicial. His work as the voice of Elmo has nothing to do with the alleged crime as it has been reported. However, being involved in a children’s program would likely create an immediate bias for many jurors.
Clash previously co-authored a book about his work in 2006 titled “My Life as a Furry Red Monster: What Being Elmo Has Taught Me About Life, Love and Laughing Out Loud.”
Clash issued the following statement:
“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 had a relationship with the accuser. 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.”
It is not clear what evidence establishes the date of the sexual relationship from the published reports.