NEW YORK: Sesame Workshop brought on FTI Consulting for crisis communications in response to the accusation that Sesame Street puppeteer Kevin Clash had a sexual relationship with a minor, according to a source familiar with the matter. The accuser has since recanted his claim.
Sesame Workshop, which produces the children's TV program, began working with FTI in June in the US and UK to prepare for the possibility of the accusation going public, the source said. According to media reports, an anonymous accuser, now 24 years old, contacted the New York-based organization in June claiming he had been molested by Clash beginning when he was 16.
Despite internal investigations by Sesame Workshop that concluded the accusation was false, the website TMZ published an article about it on Monday. The following day, the accuser recanted his claim. The law firm representing him, Andreozzi & Associates, said in a statement Tuesday that “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.”
“I am relieved that this painful allegation has been put to rest. I will not discuss it further,” Clash said in a statement Tuesday. The incident had led to Clash taking a leave of absence from the show.
Brian Maddox, a senior MD at FTI, led the crisis assignment, which involved the firm's US office as well as 17 branches outside the country. FTI continues to work with the organization, the source said.
Clash, who has been the voice and puppeteer behind the character Elmo since 1984, was “taking actions to protect his reputation,” Sesame Workshop said in a statement Monday afternoon. The company added that it had disciplined Clash after an internal investigation showed he “exercised poor judgment and violated company policy regarding Internet usage.”
Production of Sesame Street has continued despite Clash's leave of absence. A spokesperson for the show said Monday that other puppeteers would fill in for Clash, and that “Elmo is bigger than any one person and will continue to be an integral part of Sesame Street.”
Representatives from both FTI and Sesame Workshop could not be reached for official comment on the matter.