Media outlet TMZ on Monday broke the news that Puppeteer Kevin Clash, the voice of the iconic muppet Elmo, has been accused of having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old seven years ago.
The accuser, now 23, says the sexual relationship occurred when he was 16 and Clash was 45.
Clash, 52, who grew up in Turner Station and graduated from Dundalk High School in 1979, denies the accusation, according to TMZ and other news organizations.
"I had a relationship with [the accuser]," he told TMZ. "It was between two consenting adults and I am deeply saddened that he is trying to make it into something it was not."
While Clash finds himself embroiled in the personal and very public accusation, he is well known in Dundalk and around Baltimore County for being supportive of philanthropic efforts.
He lends his name to many projects and tries to visit Turner Station as often as possible to give talks and introduce Elmo to groups of children of all ages.
Several years ago, at a Turner Station appearance at which Elmo greeted friends, Clash gave out prizes, one of which was a special gift that included a trip to New York for the lucky winner.
At another appearance at Dundalk Middle School, the puppeteer showed up with cases of Fisher Price Elmo toys that were given out to all children in attendance.
More recently, Clash appeared at the Dundalk campus of The Community College of Baltimore County, where he participated in a fundraiser for the Henrietta lacks Scholarship Fund.
Before Clash divorced, he and his family lived in Catonsville. Shortly before his daughter Shannon graduated from Catonsville High School, Clash visited the school with his famous red puppet.
Clash and Elmo were the honored guests at the annual Christmas lighting of the Washington Monument in Baltimore city in December 2010.
In April 2011, Clash received the 2011 Gold Formstone Award from the Creative Alliance at The Patterson. He was honored for his contributions to the arts in Baltimore.
Sesame Workshop, which produces Sesame Street, said it has looked into the allegations made by the accuser and has found his accusations to be "unsubstantiated," according to TMZ.
The organization did say it disciplined Clash for inappropriate use of the company's email system, according to TMZ.
Clash said he will fight the allegations and work to clear his name and reputation.
Sesame Workshop has granted the performer a leave of absence so he can concentrate on that effort, TMZ reported.