Third Kevin Clash Accuser Surfaces, Files Suit Against Elmo Puppeteer
A third man has surfaced to accuse Kevin Clash of engaging in underage sex. The anonymous accuser filed a lawsuit Tuesday in New York City against Clash -- the longtime voice of Sesame Street puppet Elmo -- who resigned last week amid allegations he had sex with two other men when they were in their teens.
Citing court documents, The New York Post reports that the man (aka, "John Doe") is a Florida resident in his late 20s claiming to have encountered Clash during a visit to New York when he was 16.
"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 suit. "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."
According to the New York Daily News, the lawsuit alleges that "Kevin Clash gave John alcohol and groomed him" and that the two "engaged in sexual conduct including oral sex." The pair continued a sexual relationship after the accuser turned 18 and moved to New York, Herman was cited as saying.
"The federal cases filed against Kevin Clash are without merit," said a statement to The Hollywood Reporter from Clash's attorney, Michael Berger, via crisis manager Risa Heller. "The cases and Mr. Clash's reputation will be defended vigorously."
The 52-year-old puppeteer resigned from Sesame Workshop on Nov. 21 amid the underage sex allegations.
"I have loved every day of my 28 years working for this exceptional organization," he said in a statement at the time. "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."
Clash -- who had voiced Elmo since 1985 and was the subject of the acclaimed 2012 documentary Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey -- made headlines earlier this month when 24-year-old Sheldon Stephens claimed to have had a sexual relationship with Clash when he was 16. Clash announced a leave of absence from Sesame Workshop, and Stephens later recanted his accusations.
Soon afterward, a second man came forward to accuse Clash of having sex with him while he was underage. Cecil Singleton filed a lawsuit in which he alleges that he met Clash on a gay phone line in the 1990s, when he was 15; he is suing for $5 million. According to TMZ, he waited so long to go public because "did not become aware that he had suffered adverse psychological and emotional effects from Kevin Clash's sexual acts and conduct until 2012."