Kevin Clash, the puppeteer and voice of Sesame Street's popular Elmo character, came out in a public statement but denied he had an inappropriate affair with a teenager.
In June a 23-year-old man told Clash's employer, Sesame Street Workshop, he and Clash engaged in a relationship when the man, whose name was not revealed, was 16. Clash claims the two were adults when their relationship became sexual.
"I am a gay man," Clash said in Monday's statement. "I have never been ashamed of this or tried to hide it, but felt it was a personal and private matter. I had a relationship with the accuser. 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. I am taking a break from Sesame Workshop to deal with this false and defamatory allegation."
Clash is now on a leave of absence from the Workshop, as its investigation into the man's claims determined that Clash violated company policy regarding Internet usage.