Elmo voice actor Kevin Clash, who has voiced the beloved Sesame Street furry red character for the past 28 years, is facing allegations of statutory rape. Oh, Tickle me El-NO! Sex scandals involving minors are disturbing enough, but when it happens to involve an adorable icon of your childhood–bring on the therapy. (Remember when Paul Reubens, e.g. Pee-wee Herman, was arrested for public masturbation? That left some fans scarred for life.)
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Clash, however, denies the allegations, and Sesame Street is standing by him. The accuser, who is now 23, claims he was only 16 when they had sex. Clash acknowledges that the two did have a relationship, but said the man was of legal age at the time, stating: “It was between two consenting adults and I am deeply saddened that he is trying to make it something it was not.”
Clash is taking a temporary leave of absence. The accuser is seeking legal representation from the firm who represented one of the Jerry Sandusky victims. They claim Sesame Street is placing greater value on the puppet than “the well being of a young man.” Reports haven’t said if anyone will replace the Elmo voice actor for the time being, but everyone knows that Sesame Street would never be the same without its Elmo.