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Fourth Accuser Alleges Underage Sex With Ex-Elmo Puppeteer Kevin Clash

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) — Another accuser filed a lawsuit Monday, claiming he had underage sex with Kevin Clash – the man who was known until last month as the voice and puppeteer behind Elmo.

In a lawsuit filed Monday, the unidentified man said the alleged sexual contact with Clash occurred when he was 16 or 17.

The man, identified in court papers only as S.M., claimed that Clash lured him to fly to New York from Miami in 1996 with promises to pay for his plane ticket, act as a “dad” to him in New York and provide free lodging, the New York Daily News reported.

The incident happened after Clash met the teen when he was trying to find work in Miami Beach, the Daily News reported.

Clash’s attorney, Michael Berger, said in published reports that the allegations were without merit.

Three other young men have also claimed that clash had sexual relations with them when they were underage.

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 alleging that he, 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.”

The third allegation involved an unnamed man from Florida, who said 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.

Clash resigned from “Sesame Street” last month after a run that dated back to 1983. He began performing Elmo the following year.

Clash was not the first member of the “Sesame Street” troupe to puppeteer Elmo – Brian Muehl and the late Richard Hunt also had brief stints with the little red monster – but Clash is responsible for creating the character’s distinctive voice and personality.

On its own Web site, “Sesame Street” says “it wasn’t until Clash started performing him in 1984 that the effervescent monster became the huge international sensation that he is today.”

Clash also performs Hoots the Owl, and has portrayed the characters Dr. Nobel Price and Baby Natasha.

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(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.)