Kevin Clash, who plays the voice for 'Elmo' on Sesame Street, has taken a leave of absence from the show after being accused of having sex with an underage teen.
Lawyers for Sesame Street say a 23-year-old man claims he had sexual relationship with Clash which began when he was 16, reports TMZ.com.
However, Clash, who was 45 at the time, claims the sexual relationship began after the teen was legally an adult, reports RawStory.com.
Sesame Street said in a statement on Monday: “We took the allegation very seriously and took immediate action. We met with the accuser twice and had repeated communications with him."
"We also conducted a thorough investigation and found the allegation of underage conduct to be unsubstantiated. Although this was a personal relationship unrelated to the workplace, our investigation did reveal that Kevin exercised poor judgment and violated company policy regarding internet usage and he was disciplined.”
“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, as it has for 40 years.”
The attorneys who represent the 23 year old claim that Sesame Street has tried to “discredit the victim in order to protect its employee and the image of one of its most valuable characters… This approach places a greater value on a puppet than the well being of a young man.”