It isn't often that you get TMZ and Sesame Street in the same story, but thanks to a scoop from the trashy celebrity gossip site Sesame Street executives are now explaining why the man behind the voice of their most popular puppet might have had a relationship with an underage boy. "In June of this year, Sesame Workshop received a communication from a then 23 year old man who alleged that he had a relationship beginning when he was 16 years old with Kevin Clash, a Sesame Workshop puppeteer who performs as Elmo," reads the top of Sesame's statement which is in response to a TMZ story posted very early this morning. The Sesame statement also adds that Sesame did not find any evidence of "underage conduct" but that doesn't necessarily rule out the story what the accuser is saying, or the story that Clash told TMZ— that Clash and his accuser met when the man was 16 (and Clash was 45), but waited until the boy was of the age of consent to pursue a relationship. "Clash has acknowledged to TMZ he had a relationship with the young man -- but insists it only took place AFTER the accuser was an adult." the report from TMZ reads. In New York, where Sesame Street is filmed, the age of consent is 17.
The story broke this morning, but the shocked reaction on Twitter so far hinges on this: that a well-loved character and a cornerstone in many children's childhoods is now sullied, perhaps even destroyed with this gory bit of news. And more or less the same goes for Clash, who was featured in the well-liked documentary about his life, Being Elmo. Clash, according to both TMZ and Sesame, is now on an indefinite leave of absence.