Reporting Mike Hellgren
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — There’s a new legal challenge for Kevin Clash. He’s the puppeteer from Baltimore County who gained fame as the voice of Elmo and who faces allegations of sex with teenagers.
Mike Hellgren has the new lawsuit filed against him and an interview with the accuser.
The accuser claims he was 16 when he first had sex with Clash. Several months ago, he recanted that allegation but says he couldn’t agree to terms of a settlement with Clash. Now, for the first time, he alleges Clash used drugs.
In his new lawsuit, Sheldon Stephens says the voice of Elmo, Kevin Clash, used crystal meth and had a sex party with him when he was only 16.
Stephens was the first of four men to accuse the puppeteer of inappropriate contact but later changed his story, saying the sex happened when he was 18. Now he’s changing his version again.
“I never really made a statement to recant so, like I said, those are all rumors that got morphed into something bigger,” Stephens said. “There were a lot of rumors that got out. I’m just trying to protect myself and the image of my family, myself and my brand.”
Clash’s lawyer says Stephens “has already admitted in writing that he had `an adult consensual relationship’ with Mr. Clash. Mr. Clash continues to deny any wrongdoing and we intend to defend this case forcefully.”
“When I start to realize my nieces were idolizing this character, it disgusted me because I knew what had happened,” Stephens said.
Clash grew up in Turners Station. He was one of four children. His dad was a welder and his mom ran a daycare out of their home. It was there he developed an interest in puppeteering.
The allegations have cost him the job he loved. He resigned from Sesame Workshop in November.
All four accusers have the same lawyer.
“What these men are alleging is all consistent with each other in terms of they’re alleging that they met Kevin Clash, who is sort of a father figure,” said Jeff Herman, the attorney for the accusers.
“Kevin was in a unique position to know that I would be a receptive victim,” said accuser Cecil Singleton. “Frankly, I don’t need the money and it’s never been about money for me.”
In the new lawsuit, Stephens says Clash would send a limo to pick him up in Pennsylvania and chauffeur him to Clash’s apartment in Manhattan, where they would have sex. He says Clash told him he would help him break into modeling.
Clash denies all claims of underage sex by all accusers.
Clash has a 20-year-old daughter and a number of family members still live in the Baltimore area.