On March 19, 2013, Kevin Clash, most famously known for his role as Elmo’s Puppeteer, has been charged with his fourth underage sex accusation. Since the allegations arose, Clash has resigned from his role as Elmo’s Puppeteer. Clash is accused by Sheldon Stephens, 24, of “baiting him into an X-rated affair fueled by crystal meth when he was just 16.” Stephens claims that Clash sent chauffeurs to deliver Stephens from his home in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to New York for crystal meth sex parties. Stephens’ lawsuit accuses Clash of sexual battery for child sexual abuse, travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct, and coercion and enticement to sexual activity. The suit states, “While in the apartment, Clash smoked crystal meth while engaging in sexual activity with Sheldon. Clash also gave Sheldon ‘poppers’ as a sexual aide. While Clash had sexual contact with Sheldon, the chauffer watched and masturbated.”
Clash’s lawyer, Michael Berger argues that the claims are without merit and barred by the statute of limitations. Additionally, Berger points out that the case was brought by the same lawyer, Jeff Herman, who brought the other three cases against Clash that were all dismissed. Berger also points out that Sheldon Stephens admitted in writing that he had an adult, consensual relationship with Clash.
The complaint, alleging $75,000 in damages, claims that Stephens met Clash at a 2004 social networking event for models and actors. According to the complaint, Clash told Stephens that he would help Stephens with his acting career if Stephens sent him modeling pictures, which he would pass around to people in the industry. The two kept in touch and began a sexual affair that lasted a few years. Stephens claims that he was not aware that he suffered psychological and emotional damage until 2011. Stephens first went public with these allegations and his relationship with Clash last November, but recanted after being promised a $125,000 settlement. The settlement fell apart and the case is going to court.
If the allegations are true, Clash could be sentenced to life in prison. With three other cases behind him, Stephen’s case only seems to chip away at Clash’s credibility and paint Clash as more of a child predator monster. Stephen’s testimony only worsens Clash’s image by including “crystal meth sex parties.” Clash’s agreement to settle last year seems to point out that there has been something suspicious going on the entire time. It may be in Clash’s best interest to settle quickly.
However, it is significant to note that Stephens is bringing the case almost ten years later. Stephens had enough time to bring the case before the statute of limitations expired; and Stephens also had an adult relationship with Clash. The lawsuit could be viewed as retaliation from Stephens after the relationship fell apart. On the other hand, Stephens was still a minor when the affair began. As a minor, Stephens had no real ability to consent. Also, Clash took advantage of Stephens by claiming that Clash would help Stephens become a model. Stephens’ story echoes many similar stories of children in the modeling industry, where sexual abuse is rampant.
As a child, Stephens was probably easily influenced by Clash’s star power and would do anything to please him because of a desire to become a big model one day. If the allegations are true, Clash had full knowledge of this and took advantage of Stephens’ precarious situation. As the adult, Clash had the full ability to prevent sexual and drug abuse from happening and truly helping the boy become a model. However instead, Clash, according to allegations made by Stephens’, chose to prey on the boy’s vulnerability, which is why Elmo’s puppeteer will likely be condemned to a long prison sentence if convicted.
Blogger, Criminal Law Brief