Story Summary

Voice of Elmo, Kevin Clash, Sex Abuse Scandal

Kevin Clash, who was the voice of Elmo on Sesame Street (a PBS show), has been accused of sexual misconduct with two separate boys who were underaged at the time.

Story Timeline
Previous Next
This story has 8 updates

By Alan Duke, (CNN) — Three lawsuits alleging sex abuse by Kevin Clash, the puppeteer who gave Sesame Street’s Elmo his voice, were dismissed by a judge who ruled the accusers waited too long to sue.

Clash, who was suspended and later resigned from his Sesame Street after the first allegations surfaced in November, “can go about the business of reclaiming his personal life and his professional standing,” his lawyer told CNN Monday.

The lawyer who filed the lawsuits vowed to “appeal the decision and continue the fight to be a voice for victims.”

 A clerk with Manhattan District court confirmed that three lawsuits filed against Clash were dismissed on grounds that the statute of limitations had run out.

Sesame Street had no immediate comment on the matter.

Each accuser, all adult men, said they were courted and seduced by Clash when they were underage teenagers.

Sheldon Stephens, now 24, was the first to the first to publicly claim he had a sexual relationship with Clash as a teen. Stephens called it an “adult consensual relationship” in November 2012, but filed a lawsuit in March 2013 alleging Clash threw a crystal meth sex party for him in 2004, when he was 16.

Clash, who had provided the high-pitched voice of the iconic furry red Elmo since 1984, acknowledged a relationship between “two consenting adults” when Stephens’ story initially emerged, but he said it otherwise was a “false and defamatory allegation.”

Stephens’ suit, which was filed in Pennsylvania, is still pending.

“We have moved to dismiss,” Berger said.

“I am a gay man,” Clash, 52, said in a statement in November. “I have never been ashamed of this or tried to hide it, but felt it was a personal and private matter.”

Clash’s attorney, Michael Berger, said Monday his client “is pleased by the judge’s decision.”

“As we have maintained all along, our goal has been to put these spurious claims behind him, so that Kevin can go about the business of reclaiming his personal life and his professional standing, which was recently recognized once again by the three Emmys he won last month,” Berger said. “The judge’s decision to dismiss and close the three lawsuits is an important step in that direction. Kevin is looking forward to a time in the near future when he can tell his story free of innuendo and false claims.”

The accusers’ lawyer, Jeff Herman, called it “the first battle.”

“The statute of limitations is an arbitrary timeline that silences victims,” Herman said. “We believe that the victims in this case are within the statute of limitations, but this ruling highlights the need for a window in New York to allow victims to have their day in court.”

In November, Clash issued a written statement saying: “I am resigning from Sesame Workshop with a very heavy heart. I have loved every day of my 28 years working for this exceptional organization. Personal matters have diverted attention away from the important work Sesame Street is doing and I cannot allow it to go on any longer. I am deeply sorry to be leaving and am looking forward to resolving these personal matters privately.”

Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, according to its website.

CNN’s Carolyn Sung contributed to this report.

By Alan Duke, LOS ANGELES (CNN) — A fifth man has filed a lawsuit alleging sex abuse by Kevin Clash, the puppeteer who gave Sesame Street’s Elmo his voice.

The allegations that Kevin Kiadii, 25, made against Clash, 52, are similar to those made by four other men who said they were courted and seduced by Clash when they were underage teenagers.

The lawyer defending Clash called the other suits “meritless and barred by the statute of limitations,” but he did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment on the newest filing.

“Mr. Clash continues to deny any wrongdoing, and we intend to defend this case forcefully,” attorney Michael Berger said when the fourth suit was filed.

Clash was suspended from Sesame Street and eventually resigned after the first allegations surfaced in November.

Kiadii’s suit, filed in a federal court in New York, said he was 16 when Clash contacted him on a gay chat telephone line and invited him to his Manhattan apartment in 2004.

The suit said Clash sent a luxury car service to pick the teen up in Brooklyn and drive him to Clash’s apartment. Clash “gave Kiadii alcohol and groomed him with attention and affection,” it said.

Clash and Kiadii engaged in sexual contact, which was “Kiadii’s first sexual experience with an adult male,” the suit said.

The lawsuit, which was written by the same lawyer handling the other four complaints, said Kiaddi “did not become aware that he had suffered adverse psychological and emotional effects from Kevin Clash’s sexual acts and conduct until 2012.”

Sheldon Stephens, now 24, filed a lawsuit in March alleging Clash threw a crystal meth sex party for him in 2004, when he was 16.

Stephens was the fourth man to sue Clash, but he was the first to publicly claim he had a sexual relationship with him as a teen. Stephens called it an “adult consensual relationship” in November,

Clash, who had provided the high-pitched voice of the iconic furry red Elmo since 1984, acknowledged a relationship between “two consenting adults” when Stephens’ story emerged, but he said it otherwise was a “false and defamatory allegation.”

“I am a gay man,” Clash, 52, said in a statement in November. “I have never been ashamed of this or tried to hide it, but felt it was a personal and private matter.”

Three other men soon emerged with federal lawsuits, filed in November and December, accusing Clash of befriending them as teenagers then engaging in sex with them. They are all represented by Florida lawyer Jeff Herman, who also filed Kiadii’s lawsuit on Monday.

Clash’s lawyer has asked a judge to dismiss the three other suits based on his argument that the men waited too long to sue. The federal statute of limitations on such civil cases is six years, while their allegations involve relationships that ended more than 10 years ago, Berger said in a court filing last month.

Each lawsuit contends that the men only realized in the last year or so that they suffered psychological and emotional damage from their encounters with Clash.

“Clash was an adult male living a prominent public life centered around the entertainment of toddlers, while at the same time he was, in secret, preying on teenage boys to satisfy his depraved sexual interests,” the Stephens and Kiadii suits alleged.

While the allegations in each suit mirror what the other men contend, Stephens’ complaint is the only one to allege drug use by Clash.

“Clash smoked crystal meth while engaging in sexual activity with Sheldon,” the lawsuit said. “Clash also gave Sheldon ‘poppers’ as a sexual aide. While Clash had sexual contact with Sheldon, the chauffeur watched and masturbated.” “Poppers” generally refers to alkyl nitrites in capsule form that produce a physical rush when broken and inhaled: crystal meth refers to crystal methamphetamine.

Stephens was 16 when he met Clash in New York “at a social networking event for models and actors,” the suit said. “Clash told Sheldon he would help Sheldon with his acting career,” it said.

In November, Clash said in a written statement: “I am resigning from Sesame Workshop with a very heavy heart. I have loved every day of my 28 years working for this exceptional organization. Personal matters have diverted attention away from the important work Sesame Street is doing and I cannot allow it to go on any longer. I am deeply sorry to be leaving and am looking forward to resolving these personal matters privately.”

CNN’s Carolyn Sung contributed to this report.

By Alan Duke, (CNN) — The puppeteer who gave Sesame Street’s Elmo his voice allegedly threw a crystal meth sex party for a teenage boy in 2004, according to a federal lawsuit filed this week.

Sheldon Stephens, now 24, is the fourth man to sue Kevin Clash, but he was the first one to publicly claim he had a sexual relationship with him as a teen.

Stephens’ lawsuit is “meritless and barred by the statute of limitations,” Clash lawyer Michael Berger told CNN Tuesday. “Mr. Clash continues to deny any wrongdoing, and we intend to defend this case forcefully.”

Although Stephens called it an “an adult consensual relationship” last November, the revelation triggered Clash’s suspension from Sesame Street and eventually his resignation.

Clash, who provided the high-pitched voice of the iconic furry red Elmo since 1984, acknowledged a relationship between “two consenting adults” when Stephens’ story first emerged, but he said it otherwise was a “false and defamatory allegation.”

“I am a gay man,” Clash, 52, said in a statement in November. “I have never been ashamed of this or tried to hide it, but felt it was a personal and private matter.”

Three other men soon emerged with federal lawsuits, filed last November and December, accusing Clash of befriending them as teenager then engaging in sex with them. They are all represented by Florida lawyer Jeff Herman, who also filed Stephens’ lawsuit Monday.

Clash’s lawyer has asked a judge to dismiss the three other suits based on his argument that the men waited too long to sue. The federal statute of limitations on such civil cases is six years, while their allegations involve relationships that ended more than 10 years ago, Berger said in a court filing this month.

Each lawsuit contends that the men only realized in the last year or so that they suffered psychological and emotional damage from their encounters with Clash.

“Clash was an adult male living a prominent public life centered around the entertainment of toddlers, while at the same time he was, in secret, preying on teenage boys to satisfy his depraved sexual interests,” the Stephens suit alleged.

While the allegations in the newest suit mirror what the other men contend, Stephens’ complaint is the only one to allege drug use by Clash.

“Clash smoked crystal meth while engaging in sexual activity with Sheldon,” the lawsuit said. “Clash also gave Sheldon ‘poppers’ as a sexual aide. While Clash had sexual contact with Sheldon, the chauffeur watched and masturbated.” “Poppers” generally refers to alkyl nitrites in capsule form that produce a physical rush when broken and inhaled: crystal meth refers to crystal methamphetamine.

Stephens was 16 when he met Clash in New York “at a social networking event for models and actors,” the suit said.

“Clash told Sheldon he would help Sheldon with his acting career,” it said.

Clash resigned from his job on “Sesame Street” after the first lawsuit was filed in November.

“I am resigning from Sesame Workshop with a very heavy heart,” Clash said in a written statement at the time. “I have loved every day of my 28 years working for this exceptional organization. Personal matters have diverted attention away from the important work Sesame Street is doing and I cannot allow it to go on any longer. I am deeply sorry to be leaving and am looking forward to resolving these personal matters privately.”

Despite his stepping down, Clash’s voice will be used for Elmo through 2014, as the next season of “Sesame Street” has already been filmed.

CNN’s Carolyn Sung contributed to this report.

Another alleged victim is accusing the former voice of Elmo of sexual abuse.   Puppeteer Kevin Clash is already facing similar allegations in three other cases.  Now, a new lawsuit accuses Clash of luring a teenage boy to New York from Miami in early 1996 for the purpose of sexual activity.  The alleged victim says he engaged in sexual activity with Clash in his New York apartment on multiple occasions. Clash has denied any wrongdoing in the first three cases.  He resigned from “sesame street” as elmo’s voice in early november.

A third man has filed suit against former “Sesame Street” puppeteer Kevin Clash alleging Clash had sex with him when the accuser was underage.

The anonymous plaintiff, now 29, says he met Clash — who was the voice of Elmo on “Sesame Street” before he resigned last week — on a gay chat line in 2000, when Clash was 40 and the plaintiff 16. (The accuser goes by John Doe in the suit, a copy of which was obtained by TMZ.)

John Doe claims Clash invited him to Clash’s Manhattan apartment and gave him alcohol, after which the two engaged in “sexual contact,” including oral sex. The plaintiff also says he noticed a number of Elmo dolls and pictures of Elmo with celebrities in the apartment.

John says he and Clash continued their relationship after John turned 18 and moved to New York full-time to pursue a modeling career.

The suit says John suffered “psychological and emotional trauma” from having underage sex with Clash but that the wasn’t aware of the connection between his encounters with Clash and the trauma until this year. The plaintiff is represented by the same law firm as Clash’s second accuser, Cecil Singleton.

A spokesperson for Clash says “Mr. Clash believes this lawsuit has no merit.”

Another round of shocking sex abuse allegations against longtime Elmo puppeteer, Kevin Clash, 52.

A week after a 23-year-old Harrisburg man claimed that he had a sexual relationship with Clash when he was just 16, a second accuser has come forward with a lawsuit.

Clash has resigned from Sesame Workshop, issuing this statement in part:

“Personal matters have diverted attention away from the important work Sesame Street is doing and I cannot allow it to go on any longer. I am deeply sorry to be leaving and am looking forward to resolving these personal matters privately.”

Tuesday, Cecil Singleton, 24, went public with allegations that he met Clash for sexual acts when he was 15 and Clash was 43.

“Many of you, I`m sure, may question my motive for waiting a near decade before coming forward,” Singleton said at a news conference in New York City. “But the truth is, in retrospect, it has occurred to me as an adult how truly inappropriate my relationship with Kevin was.”

Jennifer Storm, executive director of the Dauphin County Victim/Witness Assistance Program, said it isn’t unusual for victims to wait years to come forward.

“I think a lot of people come forward later in life because they finally then realize, ‘Oh my god, what happened to me was abuse, and that wasn`t okay.’ When you`re a young person, you don`t know,” she said.

Storm said it’s so important for parents to have a discussion with their children about sex abuse, so they can identify it and report it immediately.

“If you have an older child who is obviously on TMZ or looking on the news and seeing this, I think it`s a perfect educational opportunity to talk with them about the prevalence of sexual violence and what consent is,” Storm said. “When it can be given and when it cannot.”

As for very young children who know and love Elmo, Storm said they do not need to know the details of the allegations surrounding Clash, but parents should discuss appropriate and inappropriate touching.

“There`s never an early enough age to start talking about good touch, bad touch, age appropriate sexual awareness,” she said.

Singleton is suing Clash for $5 million in damages. Jeff Herman, Singleton’s attorney, said he has already been contacted by two other potential victims.

Clash’s first accuser is now saying he only recanted his story because of pressure to keep quiet and accept a settlement, which he now regrets doing.

National & World News
11/20/12

Voice Of Elmo, Kevin Clash, Resigns

Kevin Clash, the puppeteer who provides the voice of Elmo on “Sesame Street,” has resigned from his Sesame Workshop position, the company announced Tuesday. “Unfortunately, the controversy surrounding Kevin’s personal life has become a distraction that none of us wants, and he has concluded that he can no longer be effective in his job and has resigned from Sesame Street,” it said.

™ & © 2012 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

A man who alleged he was 16 when he started a relationship with the puppeteer who provides the voice ofElmo on “Sesame Street” now says it was an “adult consensual relationship,” according to his lawyers.

The man, now 23, had told Sesame Workshop in June that he started a relationship with Kevin Clash as a teenager, according to the workshop.

The workshop announced on Monday that a thorough investigation found “the allegation of underage conduct to be unsubstantiated.”

On Tuesday, a law firm saying it represented the man released a statement saying he “wants it to be known that his sexual relationship with Mr. Clash was an adult consensual relationship.”

“We will have no further comment on the matter,” the statement from Pennsylvania law firm Andreozzi & Associates said.

Clash, 52, and the Sesame Workshop responded Tuesday with statements of their own.

“I am relieved that this painful allegation has been put to rest. I will not discuss it further,” Clash said in a message released by his representative.

“We are pleased that this matter has been brought to a close, and we are happy that Kevin can move on from this unfortunate episode,” the workshop said on its website.

A day earlier, both Sesame Workshop and Clash indicated the man was claiming that he was a teenager when Clash began a relationship with him.

Clash acknowledged a relationship between “two consenting adults,” but said the man otherwise was making a “false and defamatory allegation.”

“I am a gay man,” Clash said in a statement issued Monday. “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.”

Both Clash and Sesame Workshop said Monday that Clash was taking a leave of absence to deal with the allegation and protect his reputation.

The show told CNN on Tuesday that it had no comment on when Clash would return.

Clash is the high-pitched voice of the iconic furry red Elmo, whom he’s been playing since 1984, winningEmmy Awards along the way.

He was the third Muppeteer to take on the role.

Clash is also Sesame Street’s senior Muppet coordinator and Muppet captain, the “Sesame Street” website says.

A documentary, “Being Elmo,” focused on his story.

In an interview previously posted on the website of NYC Dads, an initiative of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, he spoke about how he worked to spend time with his daughter, who lives with his ex-wife outside Baltimore.

Advertisement