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Third Underage Sex Lawsuit Filed Against Kevin Clash, Voice of Elmo

A third man has come forward to say that he had sexual relations with Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash when the man was a minor, prompting him to file a lawsuit against Clash.

This accuser, now 29, alleges that he met Clash on a gay chat service about 13 years, when he was 16, and the two of them had sex at Clash’s New York apartment, according to his lawyer, Jeff Herman.

Last week 24-year-old Cecil Singleton filed a lawsuit against Clash for more than $5 million in damages, alleging that he and Clash had inappropriate contact when Singleton was 15. Clash resigned as the voice of Elmo after the first allegation—Sheldon Stephens claimed he had sex with Clash when he was 16. But Stephens recanted his story after reaching a settlement with lawyers, then changed his mind and said he regretted the recanting and that he was pressured into it for a $125,000 settlement.

The latest accuser, called John Doe in the complaint, said Clash identified himself as Craig and plied him with alcohol while they engaged in sexual activity in his Manhattan apartment—where the teen could see “numerous Elmo dolls and photographs of Elmo with famous people such as Beyonce and Tyra Banks.” Clash kept in touch with the teen, who moved to New York and continued their relationship after he graduated from high school and turned 18, according to the suit.

Meanwhile, according to a story in the New York Times, Sesame Street is trying to figure out how the show will go on without the dominating creative presence of Clash.

“Clash, 52, was not just the man behind Elmo since 1985, he was also the PBS show’s Muppet leader, working with writers to troubleshoot technical problems,” according to the Times. “He was also an occasional director, a co-executive producer and the puppeteer behind numerous other characters besides Elmo. He traveled internationally to train puppeteers for ‘Sesame Street’ productions in other countries.”

There are fewer than two dozen puppeteers on the Sesame Street team and they have developed an extremely tight working relationship.

“It’s a big transition moving on without him being part of the team,” someone close to the show’s production told the Times.

The shows tape far in advance, so Clash will be voicing Elmo on television until the end of next year’s season. He will also be heard each day in a new feature called “Elmo the Musical,” an 11-minute segment that began in September. The future of that segment will be determined once ratings data and audience research are in, but “we certainly hope to continue it,” said the person close to the show’s production.

According to the Times, other puppeteers who have performed Elmo in the past have been filling in for him temporarily when necessary and no decision has been made about who will be his permanent replacement.

The scandal all broke during a two-week hiatus for the show, but when production resumes next Monday, the show might have a therapist on hand to help the cast deal with the pain of Clash’s absence.

 

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