Street Justice: Voice of Elmo Facing Charges For Allegedly Having Sex With Underaged Boy

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.


63 thoughts on “Street Justice: Voice of Elmo Facing Charges For Allegedly Having Sex With Underaged Boy

  1. This is deeply saddening no matter how it turns out. Either a man exploited a teen or a guy is seeking either revenge or money. Elmo and CTW are irrelevant to the case and unless there are witnesses & actual evidence we will never know what really went on except that people insist on hurt other people

  2. Frankly,

    What you said. However, I think this case also brings up another important issue: the Puritanical and unscientific laws around age and consensual sex. From what science (and most of us – experience) tells us, kids start experimenting with sex in their early teens. Many are fully active by the time they are fifteen or sixteen. Why are the laws still criminalizing natural human behavior? Don’t get me wrong. Anyone who is 45 and is sleeping with a 16 year old has some serious issues and personally I think its inadvisable in the the extreme, but should criminality be one of his problems? Do any of you adults remember what dating was like at 16? The problems of that alone make it a bad idea. However, had he been in Kansas (of all places) he wouldn’t be in trouble as 16 is their age of consent. This guy if convicted will end up on a sexual offenders list for the rest of his life that will dog him like a scarlet letter. Is that justice or religiously motivated revenge? I think the age of consent needs to be examined in this country and uniformly brought in line with what science indicates is natural behavior. You legislate away stupidity and you can’t change human biology with it either.

  3. Zach, Remember when you called the tickle me Elmo “evil”. Watch the video it is unbelievable. Mom

    Susan Nial Sent from my iPad

  4. Don’t worry, the gays of NAMBLA will be on a campaign to call all those who disapprove of this relationship anti-gay bigots. A few more years down the road, child molesting will be passe.

  5. What Gene said. Add to it the inability to even have a rational conversation about sex and sexuality without some busy-body prude screaming their fools heads off. We act like children, who are sexual beings from birth, do not so much as THINK about sex until they are 18. The only words they hear about sex is NO. We will not discuss it, certainly not in any positive light. The sexually repressed currently control the conversation. Sex still has to largely be “discovered.” But this is not going to last. Those under 40 are no prudes.

    Silence = Death.

  6. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Oscar the Grouch will soon be implicated in a phoney tax shelter scam.

  7. The law requires a specific age. For the naysayers, what should the age be? Should it be the same for both sexes? Remember, kids mature @ much different rates and girls are generally more mature than boys. Do we err on the side of caution as do the current laws? This is not an argument, just a discussion. I’ve worked many cases like this and these are not easy decisions.

  8. Whenever I see a case like this pop up, my suspicion bump always itches. The young man is now 23. That there was an affair does not seem to be in dispute. One version says 16, the other says 18. Either way, it appears to be consensual.

    We just had a local case where a local guy was shot in the chest when he dumped his long time boyfriend. Age is not an issue in our local case, but there may be similarities in the psychology here. Anyone seen the movie “Fatal Attraction?”

    I once worked on a case where the alleged “victim” was overheard telling one of her friends, “I don’t get mad, I get even.” In that case the jury was out less than twenty minutes and came back with a not guilty verdict.

    I am not going to jump to any conclusions until all the facts come out, and hope they do indeed come out. Since this is a legal blog, everyone knows the burden is going to be on the prosecutor to produce incontrovertible proof the affair began before the young man’s 18th birthday.

  9. Gene – I see your point but I thought that is sort of covered already, isn’t it?
    If two 16 year olds are caught in flagrante delicto neither is going to jail, right? but if a 45 YO & a 16 YO are discovered, well thats a different deal as it should be.

    Where I think it gets tricky is around 19 or 20. Its not like there is some magic switch that suddenly makes you a mature adult.

  10. I see your point urp – seeing as how NAMBLA is so main stream and accepted and their opinion is so valued in the marketplace of ideas. In fact since we re-elected the Kenyan Communist Muslim Usurper I am surprised we have not all been rounded up into FEMA camps and forced to gay marry aborted fetuses already.

  11. This turns my stomach. This was one theatre or group of actors that was without scandal. The worst you could say about them a bad choice of who to imitate Jim Henson’s Kermit voice after he died.

    No matter whether Clash is innocent or guilty, the taint is going to stick to the show.

  12. nick spinelli
    1, November 13, 2012 at 10:39 am

    Nick, why SHOULDN’T there be an argument over this? This country is absolutly OBSESSED we who is doing what to whom, consensual or not. If people think that little Johnnie or little Suzy don’t know the ‘facts of life’ by the time they are in second grade (if they are slow learners) and that at the age of puberty they don’t know what they want and how to get it, you (the general public, not you, Nick) are SADLY mistaken.

    Frankly and ARE, I’d like to know where you get the idea that NAMBLA is so ‘mainstream and accepted’. As a member of the LGTB community, I can tell you that NAMBLA is considered the pariah of the community, and no one I know thinks that NAMBLA should even exist as a group,

  13. I don’t obviously know the events of this case, but the fact it was brought to the attention of the high profile employer of the accused is greatly suspicious as to its legitimacy. If Mr. Clash had worked as a receiving clerk in a hardware warehouse would his employer been contacted?

    Sounds to me, in my opinion, more like someone trying to gold dig.

  14. nick,

    Differential maturity is an issue, but generally science is showing that both puberty and sexual activity are actually starting to occur at younger and younger ages. The point being that the “erring on the side of caution” is putting a lot of people on sexual offender rolls when all they are is exercising poor judgement and aren’t really pedophiles although they may have other issues that aren’t necessarily criminal. Also keep in mind that teens will and do lie to get sex. I know, I’ve seen me do it. And every other person I know as well. At that age the hormone fairy is a relentless taskmaster. It’s not a question that needs a flip quick decision, but fine tuning the law would certainly be a better solution than legally labelling people in such a way that it can literally ruin their life. In that regard, I think 15 or 16 with provisions for exceptions up to 18 if coercion from the older party is evidenced or any other behavior (such as diminished capacity of the youth) that would ordinarily vitiate consent is a far better solution than “18+ or you’re labelled a life long criminal period”. Those lists are meant to track rapists and pedophiles, not some guy who slept with a 17 year old who really looked 20 and yet there are a lot of people on those lists for behavior just like that. This is a part of why there is backlash against this kind of tracking and rather than throw the baby out with the bathwater as such tracking has real utility and value to society, we need to build a more realistic bathtub.

  15. Professor, when you say, “Clash insists that the accused, now 23, was 18 when they started having an intimate relationship,” you are accidentally confusing the accuser with the accused. Ahem. Common enough error with respect to any sexual abuse allegations, I’d say.

    Anyway, it is not the kind of case I think is really important; it does look to me like a sexually active 16-year-old choosing (for his own reasons, obviously, some of which may implicate someone ELSE in his problems) a much older man who probably didn’t think enough about the fallout on his sexy, attractive partner. This crap really messes up the true child sexual abuse cases because it confuses issues that don’t actually pertain. 😦

  16. “Also keep in mind that teens will and do lie to get sex. I know, I’ve seen me do it.” (Gene)

    So many comments come to mind that I am overwhelmed with choices and thus speechless but … I am going to call your mother.

  17. She’s fully aware of what a lil’ letch I was as a teenager, Blouise. Well. Kinda of aware. Well. She knows a couple of things. Well. She may have walked in on me and someone two or five times. But don’t upset her with the whole story. She’s not a well woman.:mrgreen:

  18. Kraaken, my point in mentioning NAMBLA was that mores change over time. You might think they are beyond the pale now, but I recall that gay marriage was the same twenty years ago. The same arguments will be used that are specious and irrelevant. The same will be true of plural marriages. People will be able to say, I know polygamists and they are such nice people, they deserve to love who they want, The state should not deny them their right to marry who they wish, etc..

    For the problem of underage sex between an adult and a minor, we already have lots of law dictating how things like this are handled. ALL stores and bars, usually ask for ID before selling alcohol or tobacco. As long as a person is a minor, they have limited rights and are deservedly protected under law. So if an old fart like myself wishes to dally in the valley with a sweet young girl, I should be expected to ask for ID to verify her age. There is lots of legal precendence I would think about minors being able to sign a legal conctract. My impression is that it is NO defense to force the terms of a contract on a minor if the adult says that the person LOOKED like 18, so therefore the contract is still valid. It is a fairly straightforward thing to determine who is a minor and their rights and the responsibilites of the adult.

  19. Gene, Tough time selling 15 and 16 to the public. I’m a pragmatist. However, I have long thought the disparity in age is almost as important. An 18 year old w/ a 16 year old is quite different than a 45 year old w/ a 16 year old. maybe disparity in age could be factored into the law.

  20. kraaken, The reason I said why have an argument is because I don’t know the right answer, do you? Does anyone? I have more questions than answers and I have experience in this matter. I’m wrong to dictate, so I apologize to you for that. If you want to argue this is America.

  21. 16 is the age of consent in some states already, nick. Some with close age exemptions and some with no restrictions past the age.

    Here’s a summary:

    That 28 states total; 14 where the age of consent is flatly 16 and 14 where the age of consent is 16 with close age exceptions.

  22. Great link, thanks Gene. I have only worked in 3 states[Mo.,IL and Wi., 17,17, and 18 respectively]. I’m surprised @ the number w/ 16. Live and learn!

  23. What’s also interesting as I study the list further, there doesn’t seem to be the stale red/blue divide here, it’s pretty eclectic.

  24. State laws and the ages and age differences for consent probably have more to do with whom the legislators were f***ing at the time the laws were passed —

  25. “Why are the laws still criminalizing natural human behavior?”

    The premise of this staement is that all natural human behavior is moral or ethical. It is neither. It may be natural for an individual to steal or murder but that does not equate that it is moral or ethical. This is a shortsighted view.

  26. Paul,

    Your statement begs the question that natural normal human sexual development is either immoral or unethical when it is neither. That’s Puritanical. See the 1st Amendment for why that’s not a good basis for governance.

  27. @Gene: I think the age of consent needs to be examined in this country and uniformly brought in line with what science indicates is natural behavior.

    Science also shows that brain development is not complete until 22, maybe even 25. This is particularly true for the parts of the cortex that are involved in repressing impulsive and dangerous behavior, and in assessing consequences of behavior; in the last great brain organization that occurs from puberty to adulthood, the brain is revved up (neuronal transmission speed is more than doubled by myelin sheathing), but it is done in an order that emphasizes emotional impulsiveness and sexual activity. It isn’t “hormones” that drive teenage behavior, it is a race car engine in the part of the brain that controls the groin combined with a two-cycle scooter engine in the part of the brain that can think beyond the next 15 seconds.

    Teens are basically sooo emotionally dominated they should be considered cognitively disabled in the “rational choice” department. That is probably the evolutionary plan, to get pregnant by 15 and damn the consequences (as my parents did), but they are not really adults capable of informed consent, they still have a 12 year old’s rationality engine in a 16 year old body.

    Personally, I think that is the science that should be taken into account for both parties. An 19 year old with a 15 year old is essentially two impulsive children. A jury should recognize that. A 25 year old with a 15 year old is a much different story, that is a fully developed adult exploiting a child.

  28. This is one sick case. I agree with Frankly’s early comment.
    I do not think anyone in Kansas is ready to make a life decision at the age of 16! They probably got that age from the bible. :)

  29. Tony,

    Hence the language about valid consent as a consideration. This is part of why half of the states with 16 as the AoC use close age exclusions. But the fact is you can’t legislate teen sex out of existence. I’ve met 16 year olds that could pass for 20. Should some guy be on a sex offender registration for life because at 25 he took the bait being freely and consciously offered by a gal who said she was 20? No. That’s not justice. Yet that sort of thing happens.

    Part of this problem could be resolved too by reserving sex offender lists solely for rapists and pedophiles and having a uniform age of consent with or without rational close age qualifiers.

  30. @Gene: Well the point wasn’t to legislate teen sex out of existence, it was to prevent 25, 35, and 45 year old con men from trolling the middle school.

    Misrepresentation is a different matter, I think, and certainly a man fooled by a 15 year old that looks like a 20 year old is guilty of far less than a 40 year old man that has consciously developed a patter that he knows exploits the inexperience and cognitive deficits of 15 year old girls to get them into bed.

    Claiming that “nature made them ready” is simply untrue, nature made them ready for the physical act, it has not nearly made them ready to assess the consequences. An autistic woman with the mental ability of a five year old is ALSO physically mature enough to engage in sex, but she is not mentally capable of informed consent. The mind matters, in law, and a 15 or 16 year old’s brain is not fully developed.

    It is true, in this peculiar case, that a child might deceive an adult into thinking the sex was legal. I think that is something a jury should decide, since it varies by person and circumstance. If the man is the male gym coach and the 16 year old girl is a student at the school where he works and that is where he met her, then jail him, he knows her age. Ditto if she is the daughter of a friend. If the same man met the 16 year old girl in a bar, which he could plausibly take as a proxy for believing she was of age, then he’s innocent.

    It would not be unusual in the law to treat the same act between two people differently based on the circumstances that led to it; just as we do not consider ending another person’s life as always being a murder.

    I think the question is about intentional predation by adults targeting mental children. Cases of mistaken identity, fraud, or unintentional harm are indeed different than that and should be dealt with differently.

  31. Nick, you are correct, of course. I don’t have the answer, and I think anyone who says they DO is mistaken. And ARE, YOU are also correct about the changing mores and taboos.

    Simply put, as I see it, as a society, we continue to be Victorian in nature. That is, we spout all sorts of puritanical rubbish about sex and act like it is some horrible thing meanwhile we are all secretly involved. Like Gene, having been a thirteen year old boy at one time in my distant past, I can tell you that age doesn’t matter one iota. A thirteen year old boy knows what he wants and will manage to get it (I say ‘boy’ because I obviously can’t speak from the female POV). Just because one turns 16 or 18 doesn’t suddenly make him/her magically responsible. So, we can make all of the laws we want regarding an age of accountability and as long as boys and girls continue to want to get laid, they will, and their age has nothing to do with it.

  32. “I think the question is about intentional predation by adults targeting mental children. Cases of mistaken identity, fraud, or unintentional harm are indeed different than that and should be dealt with differently.”

    That’s my point exactly, Tony.

  33. Kraaken, Then I see that you DO take the NAMBLA position on child molesting. They make much the same arguments too. I can state that as a child I got drunk, so I guess that we should let kids buy alcohol too? Kids will get alcohol one way or another or engage in other bad behavior since they are kids. We most certainly should not sanction such behavior and let them drive at 13 even though they can physically do so.

    Just because our society had some absurd prohibitions on some sexual behavior does mean that ALL such restrictions are bad. My preference is for what we use as legal age for contracts. That makes it simple easy, and quite clear and logical. If one cannot make a contract to buy a car, I think that having a ban on consensual sex between an adult and a minor is also a logical and legal one.

  34. Curious, just noticed it while reading cat-fud horror stories on HP. It doesn’t change much regarding the conversation going on here, but it is nice to hear.

  35. ARE,

    More than half the state already have the age of consent for sex at less than the age of consent required for contracts. Contracting and sexual intercourse are not necessarily a false equivalence but a bad equivalence. Civil courts have been known to enforce contracts against minors considering circumstances and emancipated minors may contract like adults. We need to be looking at circumstance before labelling someone a sex offender and critical to those circumstances is validity of consent which has everything to do with the minor’s state of mind, hence the suggestion I made of 16 with a focus on validity of consent. I’ve known 16 year olds who had better sense than some adults I know. You can’t take a cookie cutter approach to this issue and expect anything other than some of the negatives we’ve been discussing. The actual maturity of the minor directly goes to the validity of their consent and validity of consent is at the heart of laws against pedophilia as much as the ethic of protecting children is.

  36. @Arthur: That makes it simple easy, and quite clear and logical.

    Simple, easy, and quite clear are not necessarily fair or logical. Prohibiting abortion in all cases is a Republican stance (for some of them) that is simple, easy and quite clear.

    I do not believe the logic of buying a car translates into the logic of agreeing to intercourse. I would not be tricked into thinking the car salesperson loves me, or that I must prove my love for her. Buying a car is not a bond in that relationship, it is the end of it; and any sensible person knows that salesperson is going to sell another car in an hour.

    Buying a car is not an emotionally charged experience that can scar me for life or change the course of my life by producing responsibilities for a child that, due to my immaturity, I never truly believed could happen, for which I never truly understood the scope or impact.

    I know a number of women (including my mother, two sisters, and three nieces) pregnant at 15 or 16, for every one of them it was at least an early end to childhood, and for half it was the end of school altogether. One sister and one niece went on to finish college, but for both it was an eight year part-time struggle instead of the four year breeze it should have been. None of these people thought they were going to get pregnant when they did, it was unplanned for all of them, and none of them knew what to expect even AFTER they became pregnant.

    If they had simply bought a car they could not afford, their life would not have changed. A car does not need to be fed and changed every three hours. A car can be stored until you are ready to use it. A car can be sold or returned. A child entails far more legal responsibilities and demands, and emotionally is far different than any object for which one may contract.

    The stakes of these two decisions are not equivalent at all; in fact for the vast majority of the underage pregnancies (16 and under) the pregnancy itself was unintentional and unexpected, not a decision. In that respect it is more like these girls agreed to ride a roller coaster and got hurt by the ride. Due to immaturity and child-like impulsiveness (and sometimes the assurances of an adult that should know better) she thought she was going on a safe and fun and thrilling ride, and ended up with a medical condition and 19 years of responsibility instead that changes the course of her life.

  37. Thank you for making my case about 18 being the age of consent. My point was that if a child cannot buy a car legally, then having sex and getting pregnant is of FAR more consequence. If an adult is part of the equation of a girl getting pregnant under age, we should still call it rape. We restrict the rights of minor in buying cars, I sure as hell do not see why they should take more radical decisions at a younger age. If the sex in among those of about the same age, then I am in favor of having that exemption since they are not adults.

  38. That’s an amazing trick you just did there, ARE, taking statements that are the exact opposite of what you claim they say and making them mean the exact opposite to suit your Puritanical Christian predisposition about sexual mores. One usually has to go to a gym to see those kind of gymnastics.

    The primary goal of pedophilia laws is to protect children from abuse by those in superior positions, not to prevent teen pregnancy.

    Try not to confuse those distinct and separate social goals.

  39. Gene H I hope you don’t have horses since you have made so many straw men that they will be hurting. First off I agreed that sex has MUCH greater consequences than buying a car. Thus I stated that if a kid cannot legally enter into contracts which have far less import than sex, then it would make rational sense to treat them as children until 18 for sex with adults. I guess you mised the part of my post which stated I did NOT even mention or imply that preventing pregnancy is the goal of age of consent laws. Since you seem to think that is what I said, you need to show that.

    How you get from any of my posts that I am a Puritanical Christian is WAY beyond any rational assumption. Your only defence is that you mjust be drunk. For your info I am an atheist and have been for most of my life.

  40. Thanks for revealing your multiple posting identities.

    However, you mentioned teen pregnancy as the primary consequence of sex below the age of majority. By using that as your rationale, you make the focus teen pregnancy instead of protecting children from predation by adults. That’s not a straw man, that’s the consequence of you mixing apples and oranges as to legislative intent. Also one need not be a Puritanical Christian to hold Puritanical views at odds with the science of human sexuality. Just dumb. Your only excuse is you must be irrational, which unlike drunkenness is a state that does not often pass.

  41. I was unaware that having age of consent laws is part of Puritanical Christianity, though it is a small part of that too. In FACT Puritans are opposed to ALL sex outside of marriage. How you managed to get THAT out of my speaking in favor of an age of consent law is beyond rational thought. I guess I erred in even mentioning pregnancy since you draw an unwarrated inference that such laws are needed to stop that. Again, how you conflate my statement on the serious consequences of teen sex with a desire to prevent teen pregnancy is again a real stretch.

    I take from your post that having ANY laws against sex between an adult and a child is Puritanical. As my one statement said

    then having sex and getting pregnant is of FAR more consequence.

    i rather thought that was a fair statement that most folks could agree on, but I see that you could not understand that. I did NOT say preventing teen pregnancy is the REASON for having age of consent laws. I was merely stating a rather obvious possible consequence of that sex. I hope you will take your meds more religiously and or get sober. Even then you are quite right that your irrationality will not pass.

  42. Apparently you don’t understand the colloquial use of the word “Puritanical”. I could use “prudish” or “unscientific” or “illogical” should you prefer. ” I did NOT say preventing teen pregnancy is the REASON for having age of consent laws.” You certainly implied as much by making that your rationale. “I take from your post that having ANY laws against sex between an adult and a child is Puritanical.” And you say straw man to me. Tsk, tsk, tsk. “i rather thought that was a fair statement that most folks could agree on, but I see that you could not understand that. ” Oh, I understood just fine. I just didn’t agree. “I hope you will take your meds more religiously and or get sober.” I don’t drink and the only meds I am on is a topical antibiotic for a scratch I got working in the yard, but you be sure to let me know how that cranial/rectal separation surgery works out for you. Surely one benefit is it will be easier for you to take a breath when ranting.

    Carry on.

  43. Gay and lesbian people should never ever be allowed to work with children, because if you look at every case that deals with people that have those sexual preferences they are the ones raping little boys and girls. People with normal sexual desires never in a million years would touch a child. Sorry but that is the truth.

  44. Smith,

    Guest bloggers must use their real names as a condition for position. As for my sexual orientation, it’s none of your business, but I’m a heterosexual who is LGBT friendly. Why? Because I’ve had very good relations and experiences in dealing with members of the community and I’m an egalitarian who believes they should have equal rights to determine their legal relationships. They’re just people. Some good, some bad, but just people. Who they sleep with is none of mine (or your) business as long as they aren’t child predators.



    The science says that pedophilia is a psychiatric disorder but that pedophiles cover the full range of orientations: heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual.

  45. Gene H., complete garbage.
    If a 45 year-old man had sex with your 16 year-old son or daughter, you would shoot him. Don’t be a complete hypocrite when making generalized statements about “biology” and sex, then do the opposite (which you would) if you discovered Your underaged child in a sexual relationship with a 45 year-old man.

  46. Justsayno,

    You have some real issues. I’m saying that not just because of your comment that “gays and lesbians” are the ones molesting kids, not “people of a normal sexuality”, but because of similar disturbed comments you made in the past.
    Your assertion is made-up, and comes from your delusional paranoia, not science, statistics, or research. Just because you assert your paranoia, doesn’t make your paranoia (and frank lie) true.

    Sorry, but that is the truth.

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