Kevin Clash, the voice (literally) behind Sesame Street's beloved character Elmo, has been accused of having a relationship with an under-age boy, reports TMZ. 

The 'boy' in question remains unnamed and is now 23, he alleges that Clash and he began a relationship when he was 16, when Clash would have been 45. The puppeteer fervently denies the allegations, saying that their relationship was mutual and didn't begin until the accuser was over the age of 18. He said: "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."

Sesame Workshop, the television organisation behind Sesame Street, released 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-years-old. This was a personal relationship, unrelated to the workplace. We took the allegation very seriously and took immediate action." They said, "Kevin insists that these allegations are false and defamatory and he has taken actions to protect his reputation. We have granted him a leave of absence to do so." Sesame Workshop lawyers have met with the accuser twice already, on behalf of Clash, but feeling that they were trying to 'muzzle' him, said accuser, opted to employ top lawyers Andreozzi and Associates to represent him.

These defamatory allegations come the same year that Clash is awarded an honorary degree from Washington & Jefferson College, as well as being made the co-executive producer for Sesame Street. For all those fearing for the safety of Elmo, Sesame Workshop assure us all that he's a-okay: "Elmo is bigger than any one person and will continue to be an integral part of Sesame Street to engage, educate and inspire children around the world."