Kevin Clash, the man who's lent Elmo his voice since 1984, has taken a leave of absence from Sesame Street amid accusations from a 23-year-old man who says Clash had sex with him when he was 16 and Clash was 45. Clash admits he had a relationship with his accuser, but only after he was of age, TMZ reports. "It was between two consenting adults, and I am deeply saddened that he is trying to make it into something it was not," Clash says.
Sesame Workshop says it believes the allegations "are false and defamatory," and that Clash is taking leave so he can "protect his reputation." Clash's accuser has accused Sesame Workshop of trying to silence him, and has hired a team of lawyers that represented one of Jerry Sandusky's victims. He also gave TMZ an email in which Clash appears to acknowledge the underage relationship, but Sesame Street officials believe it is fraudulent, because he never mentioned it to them when they asked for evidence of the affair.