We’ve all been on quite a roller coaster with Kevin Clash aka the voice of Elmo aka CHILDHOOD WONDER AND INNOCENCE over the past week. And I’m sad to report that several of you were quite right to hold back on your feelings of relief after his accuser recanted his allegations of an underage sexual relationship, because yeah. Nothing ain’t over yet, unfortunately.
Not even freaking close.
Let’s recap: That accuser recanted his accusations because it was a condition of the out-of-court settlement he received from Clash. He’s been identified as wannabe actor/model Sheldon Stephens and he received $125,000, according to TMZ and you know, the zillion sites that use TMZ as a primary reporting source. (INCLUDING THIS ONE. WHAT.)
So. Yicky. If Clash was innocent, why give some shady grifter anything instead of aggressively fighting the lies? On the other hand, he was probably advised that for every day this story stayed in the top of the news cycle was not a good thing for him, Elmo, Sesame Workshop, the children of the world, etc.
Yesterday, Stephens recanted his recantation. (Was there not a standard iron-clad “no take-backsies” clause in the settlement?) He is now seeking new legal representation and wants to return the settlement money, claiming he was pressured into signing and cried the whole time.
The Smoking Gun has dug into Stephens’ past (which includes an arrest for robbing his boss of $250,000 in jewelry at knife-point), and I gotta say that the dude doesn’t seem to have much credibility and seems fairly troubled and shady. Plenty of people are assuming he’s simply after more money. Then again, let’s not pretend that sexual predators don’t ever purposely target young people who WON’T have their accounts of abuse be readily believed.
And that brings us to today. Feel free to go take a breather, because it’s still not good.
Another alleged victim has come forward and filed a lawsuit against Clash. The accuser (who is now in his 30s and who helpfully provided TMZ with both his name and a photo) claims Clash “trolled gay chat lines” and that the two had a sexual relationship back in 1993, when he was 15 and Clash was 32.
In the lawsuit, filed in federal court in NYC, Singleton claims Clash “groomed [the accuser] to gain his trust by, among other things, taking him to nice dinners and giving him money.”
Singleton claims while Clash was featured on “Sesame Street,” he was “preying on teenage boys to satisfy his depraved sexual interests.”
In the suit, Singleton claims … although the sex occurred nearly 20 years ago, he didn’t take action until now because … he “did not become aware that he had suffered adverse psychological and emotional effects from Kevin Clash’s sexual acts and conduct until 2012.”
This guy is seeking more than $5 million.
A few hours after THAT news broke, Kevin Clash officially resigned from Sesame Street. Dayum.
Sesame Workshop released a short statement:
“Unfortunately, the controversy surrounding Kevin’s personal life has become a distraction that none of us want, and he has concluded that he can no longer be effective in his job and has resigned from Sesame Street. This is a sad day for Sesame Street.”
There’s officially no happy ending here and I hate everything about this story. If these men are lying, it’s AWFUL. If these men are telling the truth, it’s AWFULLY AWFUL.