Did Elmo Puppeteer Host a Crystal Meth Sex Party?
A federal lawsuit accuses the man behind "Sesame Street's" Elmo of throwing a crystal meth sex party for a teenage boy in 2004, CNN reports.
Kevin Clash, the puppeteer and voice of the children show's iconic red muppet, made headlines last November when he resigned from "Sesame Street" after Sheldon Stephens, a 24-year-old aspiring male model, accused Clash of having sex with him when he was under age. Stephens initially said he and Clash had "an adult consensual relationship," however.
"Clash smoked crystal meth while engaging in sexual activity with Sheldon," the lawsuit says. "Clash also gave Sheldon 'poppers' as a sexual aide. While Clash had sexual contact with Sheldon, the chauffeur watched and masturbated."
Stephens is the fourth man to sue Clash, 52, but the first to publicly accuse the puppeteer that they had a sexual relationship. Clash's lawyer, Michael Berger, told CNN that Stephens' lawsuit is "meritless and barred by the statue of limitations" and that Clash "continues to deny any wrongdoing, and we intend to defend this case forcefully."
"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 alleges.
Clash, who was the mastermind behind Elmo since 1984, acknowledged a relationship between "two consenting adults" when Stephen's story was first reported. He added that everything else was "false and defamatory allegation."
"I am a gay man," Clash said after Stephens came forward. "I have never been ashamed of this or tried to hide it, but felt it was a personal and private matter."
Soon after the scandal broke, however, Clash stepped down from his job.
"I am resigning from Sesame Workshop with a very heavy heart," Clash said in a statement in November. "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."
Three other men have come forward and filed federal lawsuits against Clash. They accused the puppeteer of befriending them as teenagers, then encouraging them to sex with them. Florida lawyer Jeff Herman, who also filed Stephen's lawsuit on Monday, is representing the other three men.
Clash's lawyer has asked a judge to dismiss the three suits and argues that the men waited to long to sue the puppeteer. Berger said in a court filing that the federal statue of limitations on civil cases is six years. The men say their relationships with Clash ended more than 10 years ago.
The lawsuits also say that the men only recently realized that they suffered psychological and emotional damage from their relationships with Clash.
According to the lawsuit, Stephens was 16 when he met Clash in New York during "a social networking event for models and actors."
"Clash told Sheldon he would help Sheldon with his acting career," the lawsuit reads.
CNN notes that Clash's voice will be used for Elmo until 2014 as the next season of "Sesame Street" has already been filmed.