2nd suit claims Elmo puppeteer had sexual contact with minor

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 - 11:00am

A second lawsuit has been filed accusing Kevin Clash, the puppeteer who provided the voice of Elmo on "Sesame Street," of engaging in a sexual relationship with a minor.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in New York, a Florida man referred to as John Doe says Clash lured him into a sexual relationship in 2000, when the then-16-year-old came to the New York area from Florida to pursue modeling opportunities.

Clash's lawyer said the federal cases against his client are without merit.

"The cases and Mr. Clash's reputation will be defended vigorously," attorney Michael Berger said in a written statement.

Clash made contact with the teen through a gay chat line, posing as a 30-year-old named Craig, the second lawsuit alleges. After a couple of phone conversations, Clash invited the teen, who had been staying with relatives in New Jersey during his modeling visit, to spend time with Clash at his Manhattan apartment. It was there that the sexual contact occurred after Clash supplied the boy with alcohol, the lawsuit says.

Clash kept in contact with the teen until the boy graduated from high school, turned 18 and moved to New York City to pursue his modeling career, the suit says. The pair had a sexual relationship at that time, the suit says.

The suit alleges that the plaintiff suffered psychological and emotional injuries from his sexual relationship with Clash as a teenager and asks for damages from Clash. The plaintiff is asking for a jury trial.

It's the second lawsuit to be filed against Clash this month. In a suit filed November 20, Cecil Singleton alleges that Clash "persuaded, induced, coerced or enticed" him to meet for sexual encounters when he was 15 years old.

That suit seeks $5 million in damages from Clash, alleging that Singleton "suffered severe injuries, including but not limited to mental, psychological and emotional trauma."

Singleton has said the case is not about the money.

"In fact, I'd like to make him (Clash) an offer. If he would acknowledge the relationship we had when I was 15 years old, as well as apologize to any prospective victim out there, and agree to never work around minors, as well as pay my attorneys' fees, I drop the $5 million lawsuit," Singleton told HLN's Dr. Drew Pinsky.

Singleton and the latest plaintiff are being represented by attorney Jeff Herman, whose practice is limited to sexual abuse cases.

Speaking to CNN, Herman said the latest plaintiff "felt he had a duty to come forward" to "shed a light on the truth."

Clash, 52, resigned from his job on "Sesame Street" after the first lawsuit was filed.

"I am resigning from Sesame Workshop with a very heavy heart," Clash said in a written statement at the time. "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."

Despite his stepping down, Clash's voice will be used for Elmo through 2014, as the next season of "Sesame Street" has already been filmed.

Season 44 will begin airing September 2013 and air for the year, according to a show representative.

Earlier in November, another man who had accused Clash of engaging in a sexual relationship with him as a teenager recanted that claim, issuing a statement saying that it was "an adult consensual relationship."

When the first accusation emerged, Clash acknowledged a relationship between "two consenting adults" but said the man otherwise was making a "false and defamatory allegation."

"I am a gay man," Clash said in a statement. "I have never been ashamed of this or tried to hide it, but felt it was a personal and private matter."

Clash was the high-pitched voice of the iconic furry red Elmo, whom he played since 1984, winning Emmy Awards along the way.

He was the third Muppeteer to take on the role.
 

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