Puppeteer accused of underage relationship
Los Angeles - The long-time puppeteer who voiced the character Elmo on the popular kids' show Sesame Street has been accused of having a relationship with a 16-year-old boy, the programme's producers said on Monday.
The puppeteer, Kevin Clash, denied the accusation. Producers said he has taken a leave of absence.
In a statement, Sesame Workshop said that it was contacted in June by a 23-year-old man who claimed that he had a relationship when he was 16 with Clash.
The organisation said it investigated the allegation of underage contact and found it to be unsubstantiated, however they said Clash “exercised poor judgment and violated company policy regarding internet usage and he was disciplined.”
Celebrity website TMZ.com said Clash admitted to having a relationship with his accuser, but insisted that it only took place when the accuser was over the age of 18.
Sesame Workshop said the show would continue during Clash's absence.
“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, as it has for 40 years,” it said. - Sapa-dpa