Puppeteer Kevin Clash speaks during the 'Independent Lens - Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey' panel during the PBS portion of the 2011 Summer TCA Tour held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on July 31, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California.
Photographer: Frederick Brown/Getty Images
Copyright Getty Images
The man known as the voice of Sesame Street's Elmo has taken a leave of absence from the children's show in the wake of allegations that he had a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old boy, TMZ is reporting .
TMZ reports that 52-year-old Kevin Clash denies the allegations that he had a relationship with the young man, saying that the relationship began only after the accuser was an adult.
Lawyers met with the 23-year-old man who claims he and Clash began a relationship seven years ago, when the accuser was just 16.
Sesame Workshop executives reportedly told TMZ they received word of the allegations in early June and "took immediate action." They apparently met with the accuser twice and had a "number of other communications with him."
The accuser eventually hired an attorney, while Sesame Workshop officials determined after an investigation that the allegation of underage sex was "unsubstantiated."
Clash has taken a leave of absence to take "actions to protect his reputation." He calls the accusations "false and defamatory."
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
When Britney Spears pulls into Las Vegas, she shuts it down -- at least, momentarily.