"Elmo" Accuser Recants Sex Abuse Claim Against Puppeteer

"Sesame Street" muppet Elmo and puppeteer Kevin Clash / AP Photo/Victoria Will, file
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(CBS/AP) NEW YORK - The man who had accused Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash of having an inappropriate sexual relationship with him when he was a teen has recanted, saying through his attorneys that they had a consensual relationship which did not begin until he was an adult.

The website Gothamist reports that it received the following statement from the accuser's lawyers, Andreozzi & Associates:

"This office represented a 23-year-old man who was the subject of many media reports regarding Kevin Clash. 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."

In response to the statement Tuesday afternoon, Clash issued a statement of his own, saying he is "relieved that this painful allegation has been put to rest."

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 was 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.