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Kevin Clash, who has voiced the popular Sesame Street character Elmo since the 1980s, is fighting allegations that he had sex with an underage boy. He has taken a leave of absence from the PBS show, but is denying all allegations.
TMZ first reported that Sesame Workshop’s lawyers met with a 23-year-old man who claims to have had a relationship with Clash. The man says that they had a sexual relationship seven years ago, when he was just 16. Clash was 45 at the time.
Clash has told TMZ that he did have a relationship with the man, but said that it only started after the man became an adult.
"I had a relationship with [the accuser]," Clash told the site, reports Fox News. “It was between two consenting adults and I am deeply saddened that he is trying to make it into something it was not.”
Sesame Street’s producers told TMZ that they have spoken with the accuser multiple times and have met with him twice.
Sources for the site say that the accuser believed that Sesame Street was going to try to keep him quiet, so he hired Andreozzi and Associates, which represented a victim in the Jerry Sandusky case. Andreozzi then wrote a letter to Sesame in August, accusing them of trying to “discredit” the accuser and only caring about how the story would affect the Elmo character.
Sesame denied those claims to TMZ. They said they only wanted evidence of a sexual relationship while he was underage, but he could never give them any evidence.
TMZ actually obtained an email from the accuser to Clash that states that they did have sex when he was 16, but since the accuser never told Sesame about that email, Sesame believes it’s fake. Other emails from the accuser to Clash do not appear to show that there was underage sex.
“Kevin insists that these allegations are false and defamatory and he has taken actions to protect his reputation. We have granted him a leave of absence to do so,” a rep for Sesame Workshop 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 rep added.