The man who accused Kevin Clash, the voice and puppeteer of the "Sesame Street" character Elmo, of an underage sexual relationship has recanted that claim, his lawyer said on Tuesday. The reversal came a day after the claim was first published by the gossip website TMZ, the New York Times Media Decoder blog reports.
Mr. Clash has taken a leave of absence from Sesame Workshop, the organization that produces "Sesame Street," to challenge the allegations.
Andreozzi & Associates, a law firm that said it represented the accuser said in a statement that "he wants it to be known that his sexual relationship with Mr. Clash was an adult consensual relationship." The statement added, "He will have no further comment on the matter."
The accuser's identity has not been disclosed.
Mr. Clash said through a spokeswoman: "I am relieved that this painful allegation has been put to rest. I will not discuss it further."
Sesame Workshop had no immediate comment on when Mr. Clash would return to work. But the organization said in a statement Tuesday afternoon, "We are pleased that this matter has been brought to a close, and we are happy that Kevin can move on from this unfortunate episode."
On Monday, TMZ said that the accuser, now 24, contacted Sesame Workshop last summer and claimed that, beginning at the age of 16, he had a sexual relationship with Mr. Clash.
The news threw one of the most trusted preschool properties into turmoil as Sesame Workshop moved quickly to protect its "Sesame Street" brand.
Officials at Sesame Workshop said that they thoroughly investigated the accusation, using outside investigators, over several months and believe it to be false. Mr. Clash's leave was granted Sunday after it became clear that the website TMZ was planning to run an article about the accusation.
Mr. Clash said in a statement on Monday that the relationship "was between two consenting adults" -- something that the accuser seemed to admit on Tuesday afternoon.
Mr. Clash has achieved a measure of fame outside the show as the star of the film "Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey."
Harvey Levin, the editor of TMZ, did not respond to a request for comment about its decision to run with the unproven allegations of underage sex.people
First Published November 14, 2012 5:00 AM