The man behind Sesame Street's beloved Elmo has been cleared of accusations of engaging in a sexual relationship with an underage man, the New York Times reports. The young man has recanted claims that he was sexually involved with puppeteer Kevin Clash, who said earlier this week that he is gay, but did not have a sexual encounter with the man before he could give adult consent.
The now-24-year-old man who accused Clash released a statement Tuesday through his attorney's office. "He wants it to be known that his sexual relationship with Mr. Clash was an adult consensual relationship. He will have no further comment on the matter."
Clash took a leave of absence from Sesame Street after the accusations were made. He also released a statement Tuesday, through a spokeswoman. "I am relieved that this painful allegation has been put to rest," he said. "I will not discuss it further."
Earlier this week, TMZ reported that the accuser told Clash's employer, Sesame Street Workshop, he and Clash engaged in a relationship when the man, whose name was not revealed, was 16. Clash claims the two were adults when their relationship became sexual.
"I am a gay man," Clash said in Monday's statement. "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."