Fla. man sues ex-Elmo puppeteer, claims NY abuse
NEW YORK (AP) — A Florida man on Tuesday sued a former Elmo puppeteer who resigned amid sex abuse allegations, saying the voice actor met him in New York a dozen years ago after trolling gay telephone chat lines seeking underage boys for sex.
The lawsuit, seeking unspecified damages, was filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan by a man who remains anonymous, making him the third person to make claims against Kevin Clash, who resigned from "Sesame Street" last week after 28 years.
Clash had quickly denied the first claim, which was recanted the next day. But Clash then resigned after a 24-year-old college student, Cecil Singleton, sued him for $5 million, saying the actor engaged in sexual behavior with him when he was 15.
According to the latest lawsuit, a 29-year-old man said he met Clash on a chat line when he was 16 and was exploring modeling opportunities in New York. It said the youth, then in high school, specifically stated on the chat line that his intentions were non-sexual. Still, the lawsuit said, Clash pursued, posing as a 30-year-old man whose name was Craig even though he was a decade older.
After speaking by phone for several days, Clash invited the youth to visit his Manhattan apartment, the lawsuit said.
At the apartment, Clash gave the teenager alcohol, and they engaged in sexual contact, including oral sex, the lawsuit said. While in the apartment, the youth spotted numerous Elmo dolls and photographs of Elmo with famous people such as Beyonce and Tyra Banks but didn't learn Clash's history until he moved to New York after high school at age 18 and engaged in a sexual relationship with him, the lawsuit said.
The youth was a compliant victim and did not become aware he had suffered adverse psychological and emotional effects from the sexual acts until this year, the lawsuit said.
Clash's lawyer, Michael Berger, said in a statement that the federal cases filed against Clash are without merit.
"The cases and Mr. Clash's reputation will be defended vigorously," he said.