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Kevin Clash, famous puppeteer of Sesame Street’s Elmo, has been granted a leave of absence following allegations that he had improper relations with a 16-year-old boy.
TMZ first reported the news that Sesame Workshop lawyers met with a 23-year-old man who tells them that he began a relationship with Clash seven years ago, when he was 16 and Clash was 45.
Clash adamantly denies the claims of engaging in relations with Clash before the man was of age, but does admit that there was a relationship after he was of legal age.
The workshop tells TMZ, "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."
Questions of fraudulent e-mails are looming and an investigation between the man and Clash is ongoing. Sesame Street Workshop officials tell the site, “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."
Clash has also spoken to TMZ about the situation saying, “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."
The 52-year-old puppeteer has also released a statement to People admitting, "I am a gay man. I have never been ashamed of this or tried to hide it, but felt it was a personal and private matter.”
Despite the scandal, Sesame Street officials have confirmed that Elmo will survive as he is a significant part of the show and helps children grow and learn.