Child sexual abuse allegations against voice of Elmo withdrawn

The man who accused the puppeteer behind of Sesame Street's Elmo of child sexual abuse has recanted his story. Kevin Clash, the voice of Elmo, is an out gay man, and was the star of a biographical documentary film about his life as the voice of Elmo. Clash said yesterday he had an adult consensual relationship with the accuser, and today the accuser effectively admitted he was lying about the charge that any of it happened while he was underage. (NYT/Brian Stelter)


  1. Sounds like he was either hoping for a payoff or maybe he’s a self loathing closet case with shame issues.

  2. Glad to hear the accusations were (apparently) false. Good case study on why it’s best to stick to the “don’t bonk anything younger than half your age plus seven years” rule though.

      1. If it was up to me that would be part of the formula for calculating the age of consent.

        I don’t think an 18-year-old high school senior should face charges for bedding a 16-year-old classmate, but if a 40-year-old teacher does it then he’s a creep who probably belongs in jail.

        1. Not everything that you or any other person finds subjectively creepy needs to be a life-ruining crime. If that were the case, every sexual fetish or preference you can imagine would be a crime somewhere, including harmless sexual habits that each of us have most likely engaged in. 

          1. I don’t know what the consequences for such an act should be. But if you’re suggesting it’s totally cool for a 40-something to have sex with his 16-year-old student/protege, then I find you subjectively creepy.

          2. @Antinous_Moderator:disqus :
            I still think the age difference makes it creepy even if it’s not necessarily criminal. 

            I work with a lot of teens. I’m younger than Clash but I can safely say that 16 is waaay too close the “kid” end of the spectrum for my taste. I certainly know I still had a lot of growing up left to do at that age.

          3. The age of consent is 14 in some countries, even advanced ones like Iceland. And frankly, it’s not like humans approach anything like emotional maturity until their mid-thirties, if then. At 16, I was quite grown up and had no interest in dating anyone under 35. Not that I had any real dating options living in a small town.

          4. I didn’t suggest that, and my personal beliefs re other people’s sexual preferences, including those of 16 year olds,  are irrelevant  My point was just that we don’t have to criminalize everything even if it gives you the ickies.

        2. My great-grandparents were married in 1874, She was 14 and he was 28, and her 8th grade teacher. It was not a shotgun wedding, rather, it was a love match. In a society that expects a 14 year old to be a full grown woman, she acts like one. Not saying that I advocate this for my own daughter (really no, especially with our current society), just pointing out that “criminal”, “creepy”, “age of consent”  and most of all “adult” are social constructs.

          1. My students never seem to understand that when we’re learning about Edgar Allan Poe. Hell, one of my college professors tried to make it out like he should have been on “To Catch a Predator.” Larger (than what we would consider normal) age gaps between mates were pretty normal back then.

      2. Yeah…I’m 37 now, my wife is two years younger than me, and we started dating when I was 18.  She fell under that “half plus seven” but according to the state of Illinois, she was still too young.  The way they do things nowadays, I should probably be walking around with the scarlet P on my forehead.

        Yes, Mr. Matthews, I’ll have a seat over there.

        1. Similar to one of the scenes in the play “Inherit the Wind.”
          They try discrediting the lawyer because he had a child sex-abuse charge on his record or something. When he was cross-examined, we come to find out that it was his (now) wife, when they were 19 and 17 or something like that.

  3. That’s what I was thinking about this whole thing. Why come out now? After his success, his documentary, now you say something about him? This guy wanted money.

  4. Well at least the accusations were withdrawn before his professional reputation was irreversibly damaged and his name forever associated with “child sexual abuse”. 

    Oh. Oh wait.

    1. Yes…”Oh wait” indeed…

      The so-called liberals at the Television Children’s Workshop, like many, many so-called liberals…”we’re  kind, we’re nice, we’re supportive.” Patronizing bastards. 

      At the first opportunity, they threw the fgagot under the bus ’cause between themselves and themselves, he was icky, icky, ceepy, ceepy. Plus, you know, black. Black and gay….oh my. 

      Overheard at the organic community garden, University District (Eugene LOL) 

      “I love my black son-in-law and my sweet, sweet chocolate (lol) grand-baby, But I will simply not abide a large, black male nailing my precious, delicate college-age son’s ass…and he’s only 20! When I attended that fraternity, they did not admit urban youths, what in tarnation?”

        1. Are you calling me a hateful, ignorant conservative? 

          Because if you are, I suggest you:

          1. Get in touch with your critical thinking skills, then re-read my comment.

          2. If you still wish to call me this, go fuck yourself with a moose. No, really, do it. 

          If you’re not calling me this – I guess I misunderstood your post. Sorry.

          BTW, I am an arch-liberal, among other things, and having grown up around liberals who are also quietly homophobic and subtly racist, I know damn well they exist and have no qualms about calling them out, like I am with the Children’s TV Workshop.

      1. I should hope that no matter Elmo’s orientation/gender or the accuser’s orientation/gender, Sesame would take it seriously.

        Would you have rather they try to “slut-shame” the accuser and have the allegations turn out to be true as was all too common in the past?

        I don’t think gender or orientation is even an issue here.

        1. You know, you’re probably totally right on this one. Their reaction likely would have been fairly similar, or the same regardless of gender or orientation. I really hope he gets his job back if he wants it. He has played Elmo since 1984.

          Sometimes everyone sees things that aren’t actually there if they’ve been on the receiving end, or have seen it happen to others repeatedly.

          And I agree that ‘slut shaming’ shouldn’t ever happen (fcuk how I hate that word, and the very concept.)

  5. It is still a fact that the two had a relationship–just at the (legal) age of 17 and 40-something–right? Is that really OK?

      1. In all fairness, I’d say that’s a fireable offense in 99/100 professions. 100/100 if your job is working with children.

      2. I know this makes people uncomfortable to hear, but when I was 17, I dated a 36 year old man. It was a sweet relationship. I was mature for my age. He had qualities most teenagers and young adults did not – not so much maturity but steadiness. 

        I have fond memories of our time together. And no, it was not terrible sexual. I think it must have been hard for him to deal with my less than worldliness since he had had adult relationships. Mostly we hung out together, swimming and taking walks and watching TV. Despite the Interwebs insistence that teens are hot hot hot, most of them are actually awkward and inexperienced and not terribly adventurous. I know I was. Anyway, I’m not sure what Kevin’s relationship was like, but I do not automatically assume it was “creepy,” or all out of balance.

    1. Where are you getting this “age of 17” stuff? Kevin Clash said the relationship was between consenting adults, which implies the other guy was at least 18. Otherwise, he would have said that the accuser was above the age of consent, not that he was an adult. The accuser now says it was an adult, consensual relationship. Age of consent in New York:17. Age of legal majority in the US: 18 (except Alabama (19), Mississippi (21), Nebraska (19 or upon marriage), Puerto Rico (21)). The only “incriminating” evidence is the email that was dated well after the recanted accuser turned 18. Unclutch your pearls.

    2. If he’s an emotionally mature, consenting adult, why not? At 17 your body is (almost always) fully developed sexually, so it’s not a matter of sexual perversion. My fiance and I have a 19 year age difference. We passionately love each other and see absolutely nothing wrong with that.

  6. Part of me wants to see if anyone is using this as a call to de-fund PBS and kill Big Bird for pushing a “gay agenda”; but part of me figures some nut job most likely is.

    1. I haven’t looked for it, but I’d bet a silver dollar that it will become a trope within the crazy/fundie online community.

      5 years from now all they will know is that Elmo is a pervert, and all the actual facts of the case will be irrelevant or seen as lies.

      1. I doubt it will take five years for it to happen. Even if there hadn’t been any accusations against him as soon as Clash came out there are a lot of people who would immediately conclude that Elmo is a pervert.

    2. I hate to say it, but my first thought was that someone bribed/forced the accuser to make his allegations so someone could make the argument to defund Sesame Street.

    1. If Elmo was around during the fifties, he would have to contend with being a Communist sympathizer since he is all red.

  7. I wish no ill to the Elmo puppeteer, and hope that this doesn’t have the monstrous effect it might have on his career.

    That said, as the parent of small children, I would happily see this end the show business career of that godawfully annoying, intelligence insulting monomaniac Elmo.  Little fucking monster that he is.

    1. When my daughter was around 8, they introduced a new character to the show. It was a female monster of some sort. My daughter had a very astute comment about it. She said, “All the new characters are monsters.” 

      She was right. I’m not sure how she understood what the older Sesame Streets were like – maybe we saw some that did not include the horrible Elmo. The older Sesame Street had a balance of monsters and people-like puppets (Bert and Ernie, the Count). The monsters are fun but the balance is way out of whack now.

      I believe that Elmo was a direct response to Barney, who was so popular for a time. The repetitious nature of that show was supposed to be based on research that that is how kids learn, and so SS introduced a really really repetitive section with Elmo.  I thought this was a poor direction to go. Sesame Street was intended to be a show that parents would watch with their kids. That is why there are all the cameos by stars that children have no relationship to. No adult wants to hear the Elmo Song a million times – they really turned the adults off to wanting to view the show ever.

    1. I watched it last night.  The only hint was one passing reference to an ex-wife.  But you could easily draw the conclusion that he was just a shitty husband/father and not hitting for the other team.

      1.  That’s funny – my wife and I watched it about 6 months ago and we just had a conversation along the lines of “He was openly gay in the movie, right? Yeah, I think so…”

      2. Yeah, that’s what I took away from that movie too – that the reason his marriage collapsed was because he was a workaholic. Wich would be a weird thing to imply in a documentary if he was out at the time. Still, the scenarios aren’t exclusive.

  8. I was happy to read this in my rss feed, as I was beginning to lose faith in prominent men’s willingness to not fulfill every sexual desire they have. So there’s that.

    But, from the article linked: “The news threw one of the most trusted preschool properties into turmoil as Sesame Workshop moved quickly to protect its “Sesame Street” brand, estimated by Forbes to be worth more than $500 million.”  maart made me cynical and sad all over again. They didn’t move quickly to determine whether one of their employees – who had access to many children over the years on the set of Sesame Street – had exploited other children/teens during his job. No, they moved quickly to protect their $500 million brand.

    Elmo may be redeemed but kids lose in this situation no matter what. One sensational lie that makes the countless number of real violations less believable.

    1. What exactly did you expect SS to do?
      They investigated the claims, met with the victim (at least twice) who was unable to support his claims.
      They investigated the company emails and were unable to find ANYTHING to support the claim.
      They did everything they could, but somehow it wasn’t enough?
      SS is more than a brand, they carry the trust of parents and children and to think their only concern was protecting the brand is short sighted about what SS is.

    2. “They didn’t move quickly to determine whether one of their employees – who had access to many children over the years on the set of Sesame Street – had exploited other children/teens during his job.”

      That’s exactly what they did, if you read the article and their statement.

  9. Let’s not forget it’s a lie though.  Sesame Street is actually a good show, that does good things.  If the adults are acting like adults when not at work that should not affect the show.  

      1. Don’t forget the recent document dump from the Boy Scouts of America, where they basically released thousands of unsubstantiated accusations of paedophilia.

    1. If there is nothing illegal going on, and it isn’t an abuse-of-trust issue (teacher-student etc), and the relationship isn’t abusive, it makes me feel I should mind my own damn business.

  10. People are living longer and staying fit and healthy longer. Many young people want to learn from their elders and find attractive the maturity in a partner, and many older men are attracted not necessarily to youth by itself, but to the chance of teaching and mentoring a younger person. I have been in relationships with guys decades older than me, and to be honest, I get along much better with them than with guys that were around my age. Now that I am older, things are changing, but I have never been attracted to men in their early twenties.

    So, screw that absurd rule of half your age plus seven. 

    1. Ray Kurzweil has discussed how this will become quite common and accepted…and…not a big deal. 

      ( )

    2.  It was always pretty well accepted until the last century or so. Look at many historical figures; how many of them had marriages with grandiose age differences? Poe married his 13/14 year old cousin when he was 28/29 and loved her deeply. It wasn’t unusual. There’s a scene in Roots were Kunta Kinte was remarking that, had he been back home in Africa he (at 28 or so), would have been marrying a girl of about 13-15.

      There’s nothing wrong with it if both people are physically and mentally mature enough.

      Society needs to stop dictating our lives by arbitrary numbers.
      Everyone ages (mentally and physically) at different rates.

        1. It’s supposedly nonfiction; however, even if it’s not, it’s extremely well researched and accurately represented the culture from which Kunta Kinte originated.

          1. Because a well known personal genealogist wrote about a culture he researched extensively? And represented it accurately? Including their birth, marriage, and death customs? Interesting theory you have there.

            By the way, I have two students from the same tribe Haley wrote about and we (the students and I) discussed his accuracy extensively, but a 14 and 16 year old generally aren’t considered the best sources, so I didn’t cite them and instead cited a known and respected researcher.

            Here’s some other sources for the same information for the same tribe (Mandinka/Mandingo):

            Girls occasionally marry men 50 years older:

            Men are of “marriageable age” after 26

            Girls are eligible for marriage at puberty:

      1. Age of consent is a different discussion. All my relationships has been as an adult. 

        In any case, my point is about the absurd social prejudices about this kind of bond between two adults.

  11. Is it not possible to out this drive-by character assassin? This accuser has potentially wrecked Kevin Clash’s career and all the good will he has earned.

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