Kevin Clash says he is gay and has never tried to hide that, and indeed was involved a relationship with the younger man accusing him of inappropriate sexual behavior.
The voice of Sesame Street's beloved Elmo says the accuser was over 18, however, not underage as he has alleged. Clash took a leave of absence Monday.
Kevin Clash, who's performed as Elmo for 27 years, is 52. He admits he had "a relationship with the [now 23-year-old] accuser," but not an illegal one.
"It was between two consenting adults and I am deeply saddened that he is trying to characterize it as something other than what it was," he said in a statement.
"I am taking a break from Sesame Workshop to deal with this false, defamatory allegation."
Clash also confirmed he is "a gay man" and has "never been ashamed or tried to hide it, but felt [my relationship with the accuser] was a personal and private matter."
Sesame Workshop backs up Clash on one count, saying that after a "thorough investigation" they "found the allegation of underage conduct to be unsubstantiated."
Still, the family-oriented organization found that Kevin Clash "exercised poor judgment and violated company policy regarding Internet usage and he was disciplined."
The Workshop added that Clash "insists that the allegation of underage conduct is false and defamatory and he is taking actions to protect his reputation."
As for why he was disciplined by his employer, an email Clash wrote to his accuser reads, "I'm sorry I keep talking about sex with you, its driving me insane."
The puppeteer adds, "I want you to know that I love you and I will never hurt you. I'm here to protect you and make sure your dreams come true."
"I'll have my assistant book a ticket for you to come to NY and we can talk about this in person."
To clarify, the email was written well after the accuser turned 18; the allegation made by the accuser is that the two were intimate before he was 18.
Clash denies any wrongdoing, while admitting a consensual relationship.