The man behind the voice of America’s favorite little red monster is being made out to be an even bigger monster in disguise, apparently one that preys on young boys. Or at least those trying to break into fame and fortune.
Kevin Clash, who has been the voice of Elmo for 28 years, is accused of having sexual relationships with three underage boys during his long-running career as a puppeteer on the show Sesame Street.
The accusers who have come forth so far are Sheldon Stephens, Cecil Singleton and “John Doe.”
Sesame Workshop originally kept the allegations hush-hush in early November when Stephens, the first accuser, came forward claiming that he and Clash had sexual relations while he was underage. But just one day after Stephens’ lawyers released a statement to TMZ saying Sesame Workshop was discrediting the victim “in order to protect its employee and the image of one of its most valuable characters,” Stephens recanted his underage sex allegations and released a new statement saying that his relationship with Clash had been between two consenting adults.
Stephens has reportedly received $125,000 as settlement.
If Stephens is willing to recant statements over settlements, then it seems bank accounts are more important than justice. If monetary settlements are used to keep “victims” satisfied then this is really just a lash out at Clash’s fame in an effort to get rich off Elmo’s success.
Sexual abuse against children is a very wrong and serious crime. It’s not appropriate to make claims against an individual only to recant them after being offered money. If Clash is a sexual predator then he should be charged as one—there should be no amount of money that erases those facts.
Singleton, Clash’s second accuser, says he met Clash nine years ago on a gay chat line when he was just 15 years old.
Attorney Jeff Herman, who represents both Singleton and “John Doe”, said, “According to our lawsuit, Kevin Clash preyed on vulnerable teenage boys, like Cecil Singleton, to satisfy his depraved sexual interests. By coming forward now, Cecil hopes to spare the lives of others like him and to begin his own healing process.”
Apparently, it will cost Singleton approximately $5 million to heal from the traumatic relationship he and the Elmo puppeteer shared, according to TMZ.com.
Again the issue here should be about justice and not money: $5 million is a ridiculous amount of money that Singleton is seeking in emotional damages, but this number would likely be much lower if Clash wasn’t a “celebrity.” It’s unfair that because he’s in the public eye that he is held to such a different standard.
Clash’s third accuser claims he has come forward in the midst of these spiraling allegations to prove that the other two victims are not liars.
“I too at first thought it was a money thing and wanted to stay silent, but Cecil’s story reflects mine and deserves validation,” said “Doe” in a statement. “Just say sorry so we can all move on with our lives. I pray that Kevin seeks help, because under these sexual demons is an incredible man.”
For the record, Doe has started writing a book about his relationship with Clash which Herman read excerpts of at a recent press conference.
These allegations are scandalous for numerous reasons. Not only are the victims very publicly expressing in detail the sexual relationships they had with Clash, but they appear to also be attempting to gain fame from tragedy.
Are these press conferences really necessary? The point of them seems to be to tarnish Clash’s character which, in turn, threatens to tarnish an iconic children’s character, Elmo.
The most appropriate thing Clash has done in this uncomforting situation has been his resignation from Sesame Workshop, which has so-far been a successful attempt at saving Sesame Street’s most lovable character from ruin.