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Florida Man Sues Ex-Elmo Puppeteer, Claims Abuse Happened In NYC

Kevin Clash And Elmo (Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images Entertainment)

Kevin Clash And Elmo (Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images Entertainment)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – A Florida man has sued the ex-Elmo puppeteer who resigned amid a sex scandal, saying the voice actor met him in New York after trolling gay telephone chat lines seeking underage boys for sex.

The lawsuit seeking unspecified damages was filed in Manhattan federal court Tuesday by a man who remains anonymous.

The man says he met Kevin Clash on a chat line when he was 16 years old in 2000 and exploring modeling opportunities in New York.

The lawsuit says Clash had numerous Elmo dolls in his apartment when he met the teen for sex. The man, now 29, is the third to make claims against Clash, who resigned from “Sesame Street” last week after 28 years.

The first accusation against Clash was made by Sheldon Stephens, now 24. He claimed he had a sexual affair with the puppeteer while he was underage.

Clash maintained the relationship was adult and consensual.

Stephens reportedly recanted his claims a day later, but in an interview with the Insider’s Kevin Frazier, said the recantation was a “rumor.”

“Basically, there were rumors involved with that recantation,” he said. “There were people speaking like they were me, but all those allegations and all those rumors are false. I never really made a statement to recant, you know. So, like I said, those are all
rumors that kind of got morphed into something bigger.”

A second young man then accused Clash of having a sexual affair when he was underage.

Cecil Singleton filed a lawsuit last week. The lawsuit alleges that Singleton, then 15 and now an adult, was persuaded by Clash to meet for sexual encounters.

The first reports on the incident with Singleton said it happened in 1993, but a corrected complaint said was actually 2003, according to a published report.

“Since I found out that there were other people or victims in a similar circumstance, I felt very guilty,” Singleton said at a news conference last week. “I felt really guilty because regardless of my maturity or my experience at 15, they were likely not the experiences of any normal 15-year-old.”

In a statement, Sesame Workshop said the controversy surrounding Clash’s personal life was “a distraction that none of us want” but called Clash’s resignation “a sad day for Sesame Street.”

A message left with a Clash spokeswoman was not immediately returned.

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)