Kevin Clash, Elmo puppeteer, accused of inappropriate relationship with 16-year-old boy

Longtime Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash resigned from "Sesame Street" on Nov. 20, 2012, amid allegations that he had a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old boy. Clash denied the allegations, which were first made in June 2012 by the accuser, who is now 23 years old. Sesame Workshop called the controversy surrounding Clash's personal life "a distraction that none of us want," leading Clash to conclude "that he can no longer be effective in his job." Since the scandal began, three more accusers have come forward, with the latest accuser filing a lawsuit on Dec. 10, 2012 alleging that he had a sexual relationship with Clash in 1995 when the victim was 16 years old.
File, AP Photo/Victoria Will
"Sesame Street" muppet Elmo and puppeteer Kevin Clash
AP Photo/Victoria Will, file

(CBS/AP) NEW YORK - Kevin Clash, the puppeteer behind Sesame Street's beloved Elmo character, is taking a leave of absence from the popular kids' show after allegations surfaced that he had a relationship with a 16-year-old boy.

PICTURES: Elmo puppeteer accused of relationship with teen

Sesame Workshop says Clash denies the charges, which were first made in June by the alleged victim, who by then was 23-years-old.

In a statement issued Monday, Sesame Workshop said its investigation found the allegation of underage conduct to be unsubstantiated. But it said Clash exercised "poor judgment" and was disciplined for violating company policy regarding Internet usage. It offered no details.

At his request, Clash has been granted a leave of absence in order to "protect his reputation," Sesame Workshop says. No duration for the leave was specified.

Clash joined the show's cast in 1985, according to CBS Baltimore. His work as Elmo earned him an Emmy in 1990.