Voice of Elmo Faces Another Sex-Abuse Claim

     MANHATTAN (CN) – Another man has claimed in court that puppeteer Kevin Clash, the former voice of Elmo in “Sesame Street,” sexually abused him when he was a teenager.
     Plaintiff S.M., referred to as “John” in the eight-page complaint, sued Clash in Federal Court.
     The plaintiff, born in 1979, is represented by the same attorneys who represent Kevin Singleton, who accused Clash in November of “preying on teenage boys to satisfy his depraved sexual interests.”
     Singleton’s lawsuit forced Clash to resign from “Sesame Street” after a 28-year career as the voice of Elmo.
     The 52-year-old puppeteer had taken a leave of absence a week earlier amid allegations that he had engaged in a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old boy in 2005. That alleged victim, later identified in the media as Sheldon Stephens, told TMZ that Clash paid him $125,000 to settle his claims.
     A third accuser sued Clash anonymously in November, claiming Clash had invited him to an apartment decorated with Elmo toys to have sexual encounters.
     In the most recent lawsuit, S.M./John claims he met Clash in Miami Beach in late 1995 or early 1996, when he was 16 or 17 years old.
     He says he befriended Clash, but was initially hesitant because he had been molested by a high school teacher.
     “Following their initial meeting, Kevin Clash returned to his home in New York, but remained in frequent contact with John via telephone,” the complaint states. “Kevin Clash called John on telephone with the intent of persuading, inducing, coercing or enticing John to meet him for sexual encounters in New York.”
     Clash offered to buy him a plane ticket to New York and to be a “dad” to him, according to the complaint.
     At the time, the man says, he was considering running away from home and was having trouble in school.
     Clash eventually did buy him a ticket to New York, and they had sexual contact over the course of his four-day visit, according to the complaint.
     “These sexual acts included Kevin Clash attempting to penetrate John’s anus with his penis. Kevin Clash told John he had difficulty penetrating John due to a medical condition. On other occasions, Kevin Clash had John perform oral sex on him and put his fingers in John’s anus,” the complaint states.
     “As a teenage boy, John was not emotionally or psychologically prepared for a sexual relationship with a grown man. As a compliant victim, John did not become aware that he had suffered adverse psychological and emotional effects from Kevin Clash’s sexual acts and conduct until 2012,” according to the complaint.
     The plaintiff seeks damages for coercion and enticement to sexual activity and travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct.
     He is represented by David Azrin with Gallet, Dreyer & Berkey, of Manhattan, and by Herman, Mermelstein & Horowitz in Miami.

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