Tuesday, November 20th, 2012
Kevin Clash, the creative force behind the popular “Elmo” character on Sesame Street, has resigned from Sesame Workshop after more than 20 years as the beloved character. The resignation came after a roller coaster week that began with allegations that Clash had a sexual relationship with a minor and Clash took a leave of absence while the matter was under review. The accuser, now 23 years old, then recanted his allegations, only to reverse that decision and return $125,000 Clash had paid. That man, whose name has not been identified, has not filed a lawsuit.
Tuesday, a second accuser emerged, 24-year-old Cecil Singleton, who is suing Clash for $5 million in damages for having “sexual activity” when Singleton was 15. As news of the lawsuit broke, Clash announced his resignation. From The New York Times:
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“Announcing the decision with what he called a “very heavy heart,” Mr. Clash said in a statement, “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….”
While Mr. Clash’s departure on Tuesday put some distance between the sex allegations and the iconic children’s character, the claims may affect the “Sesame Street” brand in ways that remain to be seen.
Hasbro, the main toy licensee for “Sesame Street” products, said in a statement Tuesday, “We are confident that Elmo will remain an integral part of ‘Sesame Street’ and that ‘Sesame Street’ toys will continue to delight children for years to come.” Macy’s, in a statement, said the episode would have no bearing on “Sesame Street’s” presence in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade later in the week….
“None of us, especially Kevin, want anything to divert our attention from our focus on serving as a leading educational organization,” the organization said in a statement. “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.’”
The statement concluded, “This is a sad day for ‘Sesame Street.’ ” The organization declined interview requests.”
Monday, November 19th, 2012
Less than a week after recanting allegations of sexual misconduct against Sesame Street’s famed “Elmo” creator and puppeteer Kevin Clash, the 23-year-old Sheldon Stephens is apparently renewing his accusation, saying he was paid $125,000 by Clash to recant his original complaint and wishes to return the money and pursue the matter through legal channels. More from Boston.com:
“Clash, the puppeteer behind the beloved children’s character Elmo, paid his accuser, Sheldon Stephens, $125,000 to recant a claim that the pair had a sexual relationship when Stephens was 16 and Clash was 45, reports TMZ.
Stephens accused Clash of the inappropriate relationship last week and then recanted his story.
When Stephens recanted, he said, through his lawyers, that “his sexual relationship with Mr. Clash was an adult consensual relationship.”
Now he’s changing his story again.
TMZ reports, ‘We’ve learned Stephens has met with lawyers in Los Angeles and told them he was pressured into recanting his allegation and insists he’s telling the truth when he says he had sex with Clash when he was 16.’”
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Tuesday, November 13th, 2012
Parents will be relieved to learn that the man who had accused Kevin Clash, the creator and voice of the wildly popular Sesame Street character “Elmo,” has recanted his allegations that Clash engaged in an underage sexual relationship with him. The New York Times has more:
“Mr. Clash has taken a leave of absence from Sesame Workshop, the organization that produces “Sesame Street,” to challenge the allegations.
Andreozzi & Associates, a law firm that said it represented the accuser said in a statement that “he wants it to be known that his sexual relationship with Mr. Clash was an adult consensual relationship.” The statement added, “He will have no further comment on the matter.”
The accuser’s identity has not been disclosed.
Mr. Clash said through a spokeswoman: “I am relieved that this painful allegation has been put to rest. I will not discuss it further.”
Sesame Workshop had no immediate comment on when Mr. Clash would return to work. But the organization said in a statement Tuesday afternoon, “We are pleased that this matter has been brought to a close, and we are happy that Kevin can move on from this unfortunate episode.”
On Monday, TMZ said that the accuser, now 24 years old, contacted Sesame Workshop last summer and claimed that, beginning at the age of 16, he had a sexual relationship with Mr. Clash.”
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Monday, November 12th, 2012
Kevin Clash, the “Sesame Street” puppeteer who has voiced Elmo since 1985, has taken a leave of absence from the show following allegations of sexual misconduct with a minor, TODAY reports. The 23-year-old accuser alleged that his sexual relationship with Clash began when he was 16. Representatives from Sesame Workshop concluded that the allegations were unsubstantiated, but added that “Kevin exercised poor judgment and violated company policy regarding Internet usage and he was disciplined.” In a statement, Clash added, “I had a relationship with the accuser. It was between two consenting adults and I am deeply saddened that he is trying to characterize it as something other than what it was.” No date has been set for Clash’s return.
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Friday, October 19th, 2012
Following a ruling by the Oregon Supreme Court, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has released the secret files that tracked accusations of child sexual abuse against Scout leaders and volunteers. The files are referred to as “ineligible volunteer” files, which is a change from their previous name “perversion files,” and they detail more than 1,200 cases between the years 1965 and 1985. Late last month, the BSA admitted in an open letter that it had made an “insufficient response” to the abuse charges over the years.
Attorney Kelly Clark has published the files on his website in .pdf format. Victims’ names and the names of those who reported the abuse have been redacted from the documents, and abusers’ names are only listed if they were employees of the BSA.
NBC News has more:
People will see in the files “over and over again where there is a concern that this material not get out … this will make Scouting look bad,” Clark said. Alleged offenders were also being “given second chances,” he added.
“In too many of these individual situations what happened was a de facto cover-up. I don’t believe that anybody woke up and conspired and said, ‘How do we create a system that would cover up child abuse?’ But when they put the interest of the organization ahead of the safety of kids, pretty soon they were engaged in a de facto cover-up of abuse,” Clark said….
Some of the findings included:
– 486 of the men identified in the files as suspects were arrested at some time for a sex crime. It may have occurred before they got involved with Scouting, as a result of the incident noted in their file or after they left the organization.
– In 531 of the cases, there was information indicating alleged inappropriate sexual behavior with multiple youths.
– In 252 of the cases, the available information indicated alleged inappropriate sexual behavior with only a single victim.
– 128 of the men in the files had their registration revoked within a year of signing up.
– Police were involved in the investigation of 523 cases.
Image: Vintage Boy Scout badge, via Shutterstock
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