Voice and puppeteer of Sesame Street's beloved Elmo, Kevin Clash, has been accused of having sex with an underage boy.
Clash has been placed on a leave of absence from the children's show. In the meantime, he has denied the underage sex claims and his accuser has reportedly lawyered up.
The 23-year-old accuser says that he and Clash began a sexual relationship seven years ago, reports The Baltimore Sun. At the time, the unidentified accuser said he was 16-years-old and that Clash was 45. Clash does not deny having a sexual relationship with the accuser, but maintains that the relationship did not begin until the accuser was an adult.
Clash admitted the relationship, but said that it was between two consenting adults. He added that he was "deeply saddened" that the accuser was trying to turn the relationship into "something it was not," reports the Sun.
The producers of Sesame Street reportedly were contacted by the accuser in June and conducted an internal investigation. Producers found that the relationship was personal, had nothing to do with the television show, and concluded that the charges were unsubstantiated, reports the Sun.
The producers apparently reviewed emails between Clash and the accuser on the company's email system. While the emails were said not to include evidence of a sexual relationship, Clash was disciplined for "inappropriate use of company email."
The accuser has since contacted the legal team that represented one of the victims of Jerry Sandusky to represent him. The firm reportedly sent a letter to the Sesame Workshop accusing the company of trying to discredit the accuser to protect the show.
As the allegations and letters go back and forth between the accuser and Sesame Workshop, it's interesting to note that the accuser has not pressed criminal charges yet.
Given the accuser's age, 23, and the fact that the alleged crime happened only seven years ago, the statute of limitations may not have passed on the case. However, for a criminal charge to be successful, the state will need evidence of the sexual relationship which he reportedly is lacking.
As a result, the accuser may be better off filing a potential civil suit against Kevin Clash and Sesame Workshop, as he would have a lower burden of proof to prove his case.