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. 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. 🙁

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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,

    1. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  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. 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.

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

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

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

    Susan Nial Sent from my iPad

  14. 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.

  15. 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

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