Kevin Clash, the actor who has played the voice of Sesame Street’s Elmo since 1984, has taken a leave of absence from the show after accusations have arisen that he had an unlawful sexual relationship with an underage boy, according to a blog post by Sesame Workshop
, producers of the iconic children's TV show.
Clash acknowledged to TMZ that he had a relationship with the accuser, but insists that it only took place after the accuser was of legal age.
"I had a relationship with [the accuser]. It was between two consenting adults and I am deeply saddened that he is trying to make it into something it was not," Clash said in a statement to TMZ
The claims, made by a 23-year-old man, are that the relationship began when the accuser was 16 and Clash was 45. The accuser’s lawyers claim to have incriminating emails from Clash to the accuser, at least one of which implies a sexual relationship. The producers of Sesame Street believe these to be fraudulent.
"In June of this year, Sesame Workshop received a communication from a young man who alleged that he had a relationship with Kevin Clash beginning when he was 16-years-old. This was a personal relationship, unrelated to the workplace. We took the allegation very seriously and took immediate action," a statement from Sesame Street officials said. "Elmo is bigger than any one person and will continue to be an integral part of Sesame Street to engage, educate and inspire children around the world."
The accuser has sought legal council from Andreozzi and Associates, the same firm that represented one victim in the Jerry Sandusky rape case.
"Kevin insists that these allegations are false and defamatory and he has taken actions to protect his reputation," TMZ reported from Sesame Workshop. "We have granted him a leave of absence to do so."
© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.