Elmo voice Kevin Clash, 52, has been accused by a 23-year-old man of having a sexual relationship with him seven years ago, when he was aged 16, TMZ reports.
The puppeteer denies the allegations, but has decided to take a leave of absence from the hit PBS show until the matter is resolved. The accuser reportedly met with lawyers at Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organization behind the TV program, and disclosed that he and Kevin began a sexual relationship seven years ago when he was underage.
Although the voice actor admits he had a relationship with this person, he says it was only after the boy turned 18.
“Kevin insists that these allegations are false and defamatory and he has taken actions to protect his reputation,” Sesame Workshop execs told TMZ. “We have granted him a leave of absence to do so.”
The company also said they conducted a thorough investigation, but the evidence of an inappropriate sexual relationship was “unsubstantiated.” However, the accuser said the company tried to keep him quiet, so he lawyered up with Andreozzi and Associates — the same firm that represented one of the victims in the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse case.
“I had a relationship with [the accuser],” Kevin told TMZ. “It was between two consenting adults and I am deeply saddened that he is trying to make it into something it was not.”