Kevin Clash, the 52-year-old puppeteer behind Sesame Street‘s Elmo, is currently embroiled in an unsavory scandal in which he’s been accused of having sex with an underage teen boy.
Although Clash has denied wrongdoing, he is currently on a leave of absence from the classic children’s show, and now that alleged emails between Clash and his accuser have been leaked the performer may be under even more scrutiny,
In emails reportedly sent well after the recipient was 18 years old, Clash wrote, “I’m sorry that I keep talking about sex with you, it’s driving me insane.”
“I want you to know that I love you and I will never hurt you,” Clash also wrote. “I’m here to protect you and make sure your dreams come true.”
The voice behind Elmo has never denied that a sexual relationship with the young man in question took place; the dispute has largely been over whether or not he was at the legal age of consent.
Clash insists that his accuser was over 18 when they were involved and a Sesame Workshop internal investigation allegedly backed him up.
“I am a gay man. 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,” said Clash in a statement to NBC News.
Still, the story has done incalculable damage to Clash’s once sterling reputation and has cast doubt on his future at Sesame Street.