Kevin Clash, the beloved voice of Elmo on Sesame Street, has taken a leave of absence from the show after being accused of having sex with a teenage boy.
Clash adamantly denies the allegations.
Sesame Workshop recently met with a 23-year-old man who claims he and Clash had a sexual relationship seven years ago - when he was 16 and Clash was 45.
Kevin Clash acknowledged to TMZ that he had a relationship with the young man, but insists it only took place after the accuser was a legal adult.
Sesame Workshop said in a statement:
"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."
"This was a personal relationship, unrelated to the workplace."
"We took the allegation very seriously and took immediate action."
Sesame Workshop met with the accuser twice and had other communications with him, at which point the accuser felt the company's lawyers were trying to muzzle him.
As such, he retained the services of Andreozzi and Associates, the firm that represented one of the victims in the Jerry Sandusky child rape case.
On August 15, 2012, Andreozzi accused the company of trying 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."
Sesame Workshop claims they conducted a thorough investigation and determined the allegation of Clash engaging in underage sex was unsubstantiated.
They say they never tried to silence anyone, merely asking for evidence he never produced.
Officials are also suspiciois regarding an email purportedly sent to him by Clash, acknowledging they had the affair when he was 16, and which TMZ has obtained.
SW officials say the accuser never mentioned such an email and think it's fraudulent.
There were other emails between Clash and the accuser; they don't suggest there was underage sex, but SW has disciplined him for inappropriate use of company email.
It is unclear why Clash wanted a leave of absence, as he denies the allegations.
As for Clash, the voice actor tells TMZ, "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," he adds, calling the accusations "false and defamatory."