One week after resigning from Sesame Street amid allegations that he was engaged in a sexual relationship with a minor, former Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash faces charges from a new accuser -- the third to come forward in as many weeks.
In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, Nov. 27, in Manhattan's U.S. District Court, a man identified only as John seeks at least $75,000 in damages over claims that he and Clash, now 52, engaged in various sex acts when John was just 16. (The legal age of consent in New York State is 17.)
According to court documents, the relationship began more than a decade ago, when John traveled from Florida to New York City to pursue a modeling career. Clash, then 40, allegedly propositioned the teen through a telephone chat line, claiming to be a 30-year-old man named Craig. The two reunited a couple of years later, when John was 18.
"Mr. Clash believes the lawsuit has no merit," the puppeteer's publicist, Risa B. Heller, told Reuters in an emailed statement.
The new allegations are just the latest in the ongoing saga that is the Sesame Street star's personal life. On Monday, Nov. 12, a 23-year-old man came forward with claims that he had been in a sexual relationship with Clash seven years earlier, when he was 16. Those allegations were later recanted by the accuser, but the next week, a second man leveled similar charges, forcing the puppeteer to resign from his longtime job as the voice of Elmo.
"Unfortunately, the controversy surrounding Kevin's personal life has become a distraction that none of us want, and he has concluded that he can no longer be effective in his job and has resigned from Sesame Street," Sesame Workshop said in a statement at the time. "This is a sad day for Sesame Street."