Photo by Jen Carlson/Gothamist

Kevin Clash, the man behind Sesame Street's Elmo (and the subject of the highly acclaimed Being Elmo doc), is accused of having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old young man. While Clash has now taken a leave of absence from the show in light of the allegations, he denies the charges.

The accuser, who is now 23-years-old, recently met with Sesame Workshop's lawyers, who told TMZ that the accuser approached them in June, and "This was a personal relationship, unrelated to the workplace. We took the allegation very seriously and took immediate action."

Clash and the young man began their relationship seven years ago, when Clash was 45—and while he admits to the relationship, he insists nothing of a sexual nature happened until the young man was of age. Clash says, "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."

The accuser's lawyers are from Andreozzi and Associates, the same firm that represented one of Jerry Sandusky's victims. They have accused Sesame Workshop 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."

Regarding Clash's departure from the show, Sesame Workshop says the performer "has taken actions to protect his reputation. We have granted him a leave of absence to do so."