A third Elmo lawsuit has emerged against the Sesame Street Workshop's former employee Kevin Clash. And the tale of underage sex sounds eerily familiar.
Yet another man has come forward claiming that the voice of Elmo had a sexual relationship with him when he was 16. Like the second accuser, this alleged victim - who is going by the name "John Doe" in legal documents - claims he met Clash on a gay chat line in 2000 during a trip to New York. The second man also said he and Clash met on a gay chat line.
"When John was just 16 years old and attending high school, he traveled to the New York area for modeling opportunities," the accuser's attorney, Jeff Herman, said in the lawsuit. "At 16 years old, John went on a gay chat line to meet friends who were also gay. John specifically stated his intention on the chat line as non-sexual. John was contacted through the chat line by Kevin Clash. Kevin Clash said his name was Craig and he was 30 years old. Kevin Clash was approximately 40 years old at the time."
Kevin Clash, the longtime voice of Elmo, resigned from Sesame Street Workshop on Nov. 20 after a second accuser came forward.
For a brief moment last Tuesday, it seemed like the underage sex allegations against the Sesame puppeteer made on Monday were false. Andreozzi & Associates, a law firm retained by the accuser, said: "He wants it to be known that his sexual relationship with Mr. Clash was an adult consensual relationship." The statement added, "He will have no further comment on the matter."
But over the weekend, new information emerged that Clash had reportedly pressured Stephens to recant by offering him $125,000 in exchange for Sheldon's attorneys going public saying the accuser was, in fact, 23 when the affair occurred. A second stipulation was that Stephens and his attorneys would never say anything but those words to the press.
The disturbing tale didn't end there. This morning, new reports surfaced that asecond accuser has stepped forward. The accuser, who is now in his 30s, filed a lawsuit against Clash, saying they met via a gay phone chat line in 1993, according to TMZ. At the time, Clash was 32 and the accuser, Cecil Singleton, was 15.
Clash, a 52-year-old divorced dad who lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, was called "Nookie Monster" and "Red Devil" last week by the New York Post, while Twitter erupted with an enormous amount of venom: "Hope the allegations against Elmo are false," Jamie Lee tweeted. "I wanna go back to the way things were before... when we thought Bert & Ernie were pervs."
Sesame Street Workshop said on Monday: "We took the allegation very seriously and took immediate action. We met with the accuser twice and had repeated communications with him. We met with Kevin, who denied the accusation. We also conducted a thorough investigation and found the allegation of underage conduct to be unsubstantiated. Although this was a personal relationship unrelated to the workplace, our investigation did reveal that Kevin exercised poor judgment and violated company policy regarding Internet usage and he was disciplined."
Until now, Clash was by all accounts very respected by Sesame Street Workshop execs. One of the show's writers, Nancy Sans, once explained: "There was this extra red puppet lying around and the cast would pick him up sometimes and try to create a personality, but nothing seemed to materialize."
After various puppeteers tried and failed to make Elmo a huge success like Big Bird and Cookie Monster "one day [in 1984], Kevin Clash, a talented puppeteer, raised him up and brought energy and life into Elmo and from that day forward we would all write for Elmo. Kevin's performance inspired the writers to develop Elmo's character."
Now it's unclear who the man responsible for that furry transformation is - and whether he can ever be trusted again.