The man who first accused Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash of engaging in a sexual relationship with a minor filed a lawsuit against Clash Tuesday seeking damages.
Sheldon Stephens, 24, came forward in November, alleging that he shared a sexual relationship with Clash as a teenager. Though he eventually opted for a $12,500 settlement to keep the case out of court, three other young men with similar claims chose to sue the former Sesame Street cast member.
In paperwork for the suit, Stephen said that he was 16 when he begun his relationship with Clash, and was spurred into drug use by the older man. He claims that Clash, 52, used crystal meth and fed him alkyl nitrates or “poppers” in order to increase arousal. TMZ reports that Stephens is seeking some $75,000 in damages, several times larger than the November settlement he received.
All four of the cases against Clash remain in civil court, meaning he is not facing criminal charges. Miami attorney Jeff Herman represents all four of Clash’s accusers, who are all seeking similar amounts in damages. The puppeteer has denied all allegations of wrongdoing against him, but admitted to having a relationship with Stephens after the younger man became an adult.
“All these victims have alleged to me that Kevin Clash was this father figure who offered to help them and groom them with attention and fairly quickly it turned into a sexual relationship,” Herman said, according to the Baltimore Sun.
Stephen’s case comes months after the original claims reached the public, bringing the merit of his case into question. Shortly after he made his story public the 24-year-old was subject to reports on his own criminal past, which includes a charge for armed robbery. Clash’s lawyer, Michael G. Berger, said that Stephens had already recanted his original tale of an underage relationship.
“Sheldon Stephens, the plaintiff, has already admitted in writing that he had ‘an adult consensual relationship’ with Mr. Clash,” Berger said in a statement. “Mr. Clash continues to deny any wrongdoing, and we intend to defend this case forcefully.”