Kevin Clash, the man who provides the voice of "Sesame Street" character Elmo, has been accused of having an affair with a 16-year-old boy. Clash has denied the allegations and has taken a leave of absence from the show while lawyers sort out the details.
The 16-year-old boy, now 23, initially contacted "Sesame Street" producers in order to reveal details of his relationship with Clash. However, as TMZ has reported, the young man felt "muzzled" by Sesame Workshop lawyers; he then hired his own attorneys from the same firm that represented one of the Jerry Sandusky accusers.
"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," the Workshop lawyers told TMZ.
Unfortunately, the meeting between the accuser and Workshop lawyers did not go well, and the accuser's lawyers sent a letter saying they felt the company was trying to "discredit the victim in order to protect its employee and the image of one of its most valuable characters."
For his part, Clash has confirmed that he had a relationship with his accuser.
"It was between two consenting adults, and I am deeply saddened that he is trying to make it into something it was not," he told TMZ.
Clash has taken a leave of absence to deal with the situation and "protect his reputation," Workshop officials stated. "Kevin insists that these allegations are false and defamatory."
Sesame Workshop officials say that while they have emails between Clash and his accuser, they have no substantial proof of an intimate relationship between the two. It's unknown what will come of the charges, or when Clash will return to his work on "Sesame Street."
Clash became famous for providing the voice of Elmo, the popular red muppet on "Sesame Street." He starred in a documentary about his life and experience providing the voice for one so famous in "Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey." The documentary won awards, and Clash himself has earned nine Daytime Emmy Awards for his work.