Kevin Clash’s accuser recants his recant, says Clash paid him $125K (update)

In case you missed it last week, there was a big scandal involving Kevin Clash (the voice and puppeteer of Elmo) and his possible relationship with an underage boy. Clash’s accuser, Sheldon Stephens, first claimed that he and Clash had begun an inappropriate (and illegal) sexual relationship when Stephens was only 16 years old. Clash claimed that he and Stephens had been friends for years, and that their sexual relationship began when Stephens was of age. A few days after the story broke (the story broke on TMZ, when I believe Stephens leaked information to TMZ), Stephens publicly recanted and TMZ claimed Clash had paid off Stephens. I hoped that was the end of it. But it wasn’t.

Immediately following Stephens’ recant, The Smoking Gun got in touch with one of Stephens’ family members and one of his friends – you can read TSG’s story here. Stephens seemed like some kind of wannabe model/actor/grifter targeting wealthy gay men – a source said Stephens “attracts these high-powered men,” but he’s a “God-fearing guy” and “not just a pretty boy.” He’s been arrested several times too, once for robbing a former boss at knifepoint. Basically, Stephens seems like a sketchball. And now he’s recanting his recant. Because of course:

The man who accused Kevin Clash, the voice of Elmo, of having sex with him while he was underage stands by his story, claims he was pressured into recanting it, and is now interviewing lawyers to help him undo his settlement.

TMZ broke the story … Clash and Sheldon Stephens entered into a settlement in which Clash agreed to pay Stephens $125,000, but in return the agreement provides the following:

“Stephens agrees that immediately upon execution of this Agreement, his counsel, Andreozzi & Associates, P.C., shall release the [following] statement … ‘He [Stephens] wants it to be known that his sexual relationship with Mr. Clash was an adult consensual relationship.’”

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.

Stephens — who is now 23 — is telling lawyers he will gladly forfeit the $125,000 to restore his name. Stephens is saying he was literally crying during the final negotiations and repeatedly said he didn’t want to sign.

Clash’s lawyer told us Friday he would have no comment on the settlement story.

[From TMZ]

If Clash did offer Stephens a cash settlement – which I do believe happened, simply because everything was “taken care of” so swiftly – I’m assuming that part of the settlement was a non-disclosure clause, just because OF COURSE. If you’re Kevin Clash and you’re paying off this crazy grifter just to get him to STFU (and at this point, I have no idea if Clash was sleeping with Stephens when he was underage), you know that this is the kind of guy who will say whatever for money. So there is hopefully a binding non-disclosure clause. Meaning that if Stephens leaked this information to TMZ (which he did, let’s face it) and Stephens is now trying to recant his recant, that means Clash can sue Stephens. And take the settlement money back. And it means that Stephens really doesn’t have any credibility. At all.

UPDATE: Clash has resigned from Sesame Street officially now. And there’s a second man claiming that he had sex with Clash when he (the accuser) was underage.

Photos courtesy of WENN, Google Images.

 

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82 Responses to “Kevin Clash’s accuser recants his recant, says Clash paid him $125K (update)”

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  1. Kate says:

    I don’t honestly think it matters how sketchy the kid is, or whether he was 16 or 17 (I’m English, and 16 is legal here unless the adult is in a position of authority over them). A 48 year old with a teenager is a skeeze. It’s all kinds of wrong.

    There’s also the fact that a teenager with someone pushing 50 may be so screwed up by it that it’s hard to know if they’d have been sketchy, had it never happened. Exploitation as a kid doesn’t tend to lead to a well-balanced and well integrated adult, though many abuse survivors do amazingly well notwithstanding, and the damage is usually internalised, rather than taken out on others.

    It’s wrong. And the kid doesn’t need to be an angel for that to be true, because it’s not them who’s out of line in that context.

    • LAK says:

      THIS. irrespective of gender of the parties. Do you remember Bill Wyman and his child bride, Mandy Smith???

      She is still messed up whilst he gets on with his life. at least publicly.

      • Kate (newer one) says:

        There’s no statute of limitations on child sex abuse. She was 13 years old and he knew it. I hope she goes to the police at some stage. He even had the gall to write, “she was only 13, but she was a woman” about the first time he kissed her. Utterly nauseating and scary.

        I get quite militant about this because I worked for an organisation that helped people whose lives were in total freefall, and more often than not, they’d been abused at some point. Many of them by a series of people. It’s horrible how often it happens to kids in state care – especially young offenders placed in children’s homes – because as the commenter below says, who would believe them? There’s no parent in the picture interested and/or capable of fighting for them properly, so there’s not the risk to the abuser.

        And legalities be screwed – a 30 year age gap is only okay when both sides are truly adults.

  2. Erinn says:

    I’m starting to believe the kid. I think that if he was truly lying about the whole thing, he’d have kept the money and run.

  3. KellyinSeattle says:

    I think the accuser is lying about the recant….
    I wish lie detectors could be used much more, in lawsuits and such.
    My seven year old nephew saw this on the TV and asked me if Bert and Ernie were gay. Kind of sad that this dirty laundry is aired at all.

  4. Kate says:

    Because of the potential criminal liability for having sex with a minor (depending upon statute of limitations), Clash can’t just sue over the nondisclosure breach. The criminal action becomes front and center and a judge probably refers it to the prosecutor, if he thinks there is something there (and it is still legally viable time-wise). That he paid the guy off presumes, I think, that there is something there other than a “consensual” relationship.

    If there is an arbitration clause, he’s got a better shot at getting his money back because that is handled privately. If not, I sure wouldn’t advise him to take that case to court if the limitations period hasn’t run on the potential criminal activity.

    The bottom line is it is all sketchy and I suspect this Stevens guy has successfully fleeced Clash. Which, maybe Clash deserved.

  5. Dani says:

    This just makes his story seem even less real. He realized he could get money but giving out information basically, so he’s pushing it to the limits. Maybe he thinks Clash will give him even more money to stfu again. He doesn’t seem to have the best track record, and 16 or 30, when people, steal, lie etc, they know what they’re doing – especially if it was more than once.

  6. thinkaboutit says:

    This story is essentially over — everyone involved looks like a scumbag, regardless of who’s lying and who is telling the truth.

    • kay says:

      I think this is more truth than any recanting of recants, what thinkaboutit said.

      It’s a mess. I am inclined to believe they did sleep together when he was just 16, but that it was consensual. I don’t believe elmo guy was in a position of authority over him, so the fact that he waited until they broke up, took the money, and then recanted again screams extortion. He wants more money- the first lot came pretty fast and easy for him.

      • kay says:

        You seem to have a good understanding of the laws- can you tell why it is, if this was rape, he has not been charged, or why his victim has not gone to police yet?
        and why the other victim waited 10 years to file a lawsuit and is so distraught that now only 5 million dollars will help him- but seeing elmo guy in jail would not?

        it was not consensual under the law, but I think these “kids” knew what they were doing. the fact that they have not gone to the police (that has been made public) speaks volumes.

        it’s wrong, it disgusting that this old man is chasing young guys.
        but it’s a grey area in this case only- I am not talking about other cases, just this one with elmo guy.
        if they were so taken advantage of- where are the police exactly?

      • Isa says:

        Well if this occurred in my state it wouldn’t be statutory rape.

  7. K.P. says:

    The accuser has nothing to gain from the disclosure and the creepy old guy has everything to lose from being outed as a criminal pedophile. The swift recant was suspicious, and this scenario makes much more sense. I believe the accuser. Bravo to him for not keeping silent, even at a financial loss and at the risk of the victim-blaming occuring in this article. Abuse of minors is not the kind of thing you excuse because you don’t want it to be true.

    • kay says:

      you know, age alone doesn’t make you a minor- by strict guidelines sure.
      He could have been 16, and 2 months later turned 17, is that the same thing as just turned 16?
      lots of room for growth in a year.

      Not only that, but since when does age dictate innocence to the point that it’s abuse of a minor?
      are the kids who are 16 and kill people minors? some are tried as adults, and rightly so.

    • Miffy says:

      From the sounds of it the accuser has a lot to gain, money and fame via sit-down interviews. For an aspiring actor/model/whatever that’s more than slightly tempting.

  8. apsutter says:

    Alright, I’m officially done with this story. Of course he paid him off to shut him up and he chose to take the money. I’m just going to leave this link here for you guys to peruse. http://www.uproxx.com/tv/2012/11/the-accuser-of-kevin-clash-the-voice-of-elmo-has-been-revealed/ The accuser looks like a sleazeball

  9. val says:

    And the plot thickens…ha ha ha ha ha!

  10. Macey says:

    Dont forget that the original lawyers that Clash hired dropped him before signing the deal b/c they suspected him of extortion (forget names but they also worked for Sandusky’s victims).
    Funny how TMZ and other news outlets are failing to mention that.
    Normally Id be all for the victim but I honestly think this guy was out for cash from the get-go.
    The part of him crying when signing is laughable. I think he realized he could make more selling his bogus story than he got in the settlement.

  11. T.C. says:

    Again if this is true the accuser should take this to the police. It would be statutory rape. He can bring up criminal charges against Clash AND sue for money later in a civil trial. Bypassing the police to get the money from Clash (going to his employer first) all point to a shakedown for money. Clash shows poor judgement in getting involved with this guy.

    If a guy had under-age sex with me that I felt uncomfortable with, I would want to stop him from doing it to someone else by going to the police. That’s the first step not a law office or their employer.

  12. fabgrrl says:

    Bottom line, Sheldon Stephens is a hustler. A hooker. Obviously. I’ll bet he has been deliberately ambiguous about his age to many clients. He is probably from circumstances and has had a fuct up life, but he is clearly a grifter. Not an innocent school boy seduced by a creeper. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has blackmailed a lot of men from his past, using the “I was only 16″ line.

  13. Grace says:

    That man is too old to be talking to a young boy about sex online or anywhere else.
    He probably chose Stephens specifically because he was troubled. If he did talk they’d check his background and Clash would be vindicated. The exact same thing happened at Penn State for decades.
    Someone needs to ask Stephens if Clash was chatting to, or hanging out with, other underaged boys at the same time as he was chatting with him.
    I bet there have been several small payouts.

  14. JustAGirl says:

    According to TMZ, another accuser has stepped forward…underaged also. Sad however it plays out.

  15. Anon says:

    I think the accuser is a con-artist.
    My 10 month old grandson has been recognizing Elmo’s voice for months now, I hope that voice doesn’t change because of a greedy con-artist’s shake-down and TMZ wanting to get back some web hits.
    Baby’s 1st Birthday theme will be ELMO. Thank you Mr. Clash, Sesame Street needs you.

  16. L says:

    Update: There’s another accuser (they are going to come out of the woodwork now) and Clash has resigned from the show.

    Of course, this makes me raise my eyebrows. “As to why he hadn’t previously come forward, the accuser says he just recently became aware of ‘adverse psychological and emotional effects from Kevin Clash’s sexual acts and conduct.’ The lawsuit seeks over $5 million in damages.”

    http://gawker.com/5962135/second-man-accuses-elmo-voice-actor-of-underage-sex-says-he-has-a-thing-for-teenage-boys?utm_source=gawker.com&utm_medium=recirculation&utm_campaign=recirculation

    • Relli says:

      Makes me raise my eyebrows too. I don’t think its any surprise that more young men are going to come forward once one got some cash. The only problem I have with everyone rushing to call Clash a predator and child molester is that I have encountered my fair share of (underage) male teenage prostitutes, whose backgrounds aren’t all that dissimilar from the original accuser.

  17. Jumla says:

    Trying to get money off his abuser does not negate his story! He would not be the first victim to think that the best way to get back at his abuser would be to humiliate him professionally and get some cash in his own wallet.

    And I think we are all aware that kids who are sexually exploited later turn into hyper-sexual adults who often trade sex for favours. So it should surprise no one that he is allegedly hunting wealthy gays. On a side note, what do you want to bet that he has a drug habit? How much more do you want to bet that it began in his teens? Just saying.

    Let me also remind you that many victims (especially those whose abuse was non-violent and in their teens) don’t even realise the extent of their violation until much later. Hell, some commentators don’t even understand why he could view it as a violation if there was no physical violence. Maybe it hit this guy as he was sitting in that conference room reading a gagging clause. I would imagine that he didn’t even think himself damaged until he was faced with signing away his Truth and his ability to obtain recourse. If this is the case then I am glad that he is finally weeping for himself and hopefully confronting his personally demons finally.

    Good riddance to Kevin Clash, even going by his account, a 50 year old man had no business sniffing around a very troubled kid and waiting for him to be legal (if he even waited) like some kind of sex starved vulture.

  18. booger says:

    The same people here decrying Clash as a “pedo” came down on posters here a while back for opining that Brad Pitt was icky for dating Juliette Lewis when he was 17/28 and she was 16. Don’t forget Don Johnson dated Melanie Griffith when she was 14 and he was 22.

    Where I come from, 14 is the age of consent and I have to say I really don’t think this story is a big deal. If dude’s allegations are true, the worst thing Clash is guilty of is being icky and skeevy, but people are way overreacting labelling him as a pedo.

    • Lulu says:

      There’s been lots. Check out K.P.’s post just upthread for example.

    • booger says:

      What I’m trying to say is this story obv can’t be assessed in black and white terms. Even if the accusers were teens we don’t know the specifics. I honestly don’t get the public furor over this. Is it really news that older dudes with money, power, and influence like to mack on young pretty people? So long as they’re not committing any crimes then zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    • gg says:

      I just feel like people working for Sesame Street, and especially individuals that have been singled out as exemplary as Mr. Clash has been recently, should have higher standards than any of this indicates Mr. Clash possesses. Call me a prude, but sleaze has no place in children’s television, even behind the scenes.

      And where are the denials or statements by Clash on all this new stuff, defending himself?

  19. Guest says:

    Mr Cash has formerly resigned from Sesame Street since another allegation has been made against him by a minor male. Hopefully the story will go away. We can all raise our children in peace without distractions.

  20. aims says:

    Sad. If true, how stupid to not have enough sense to stay away from a minor. Again, if true. I think more and more will come out of the woodwork. Gay, Straight, Bi it doesn’t matter. Don’t mess around with someone underage.

  21. BeesKnees says:

    I’m so thankful my daughter is too young to understand this, she loves Elmo. I watched the documentary and he seemed like such a good guy, he is also from Baltimore and some of the people at WMAR worked with him when he was younger and said he was a great guy. I thought it was a shakedown until the second accuser came forward. I hope this isn’t another Tiger Woods situation, people popping up every day. Thankfully Elmo is a puppet and someone else can take over. The whole story is just icky to me because I truly do think it taints the image of Elmo. I’m not going to get rid of my daughter’s Elmo things, but this story will be in the back of my mind for a while.

    • Trek Girl says:

      Yes, it is sad that this will be connected to Elmo for a while.

      I think Elmo is a solid character that, while brought to life by Clash, is able to remain on Sesame Street without a problem. If they retire Elmo at this point or in the near future, they will connect Elmo with Clash and his alleged crimes in a way that can’t be undone easily.

      I think it would be better for them, and all of the fans, to replace Clash and not change Elmo or his part in the show too much or at all. By doing this they can, hopefully, avoid making Clash’s history Elmo’s history.

  22. jennahaus says:

    According to tmz, clash would find these young men on the internet. Unlike the whole Jerry Sandusky situation, these boys or men (depending on who is lying about his age) knew exactly what they were doing. Although I dont have first hand experience seeing it myself, I have heard that there are young boys who have “sugar daddies” and in some places, it is a very common practice. My guess was, this is what Clash is. I also think that he ever said to his young partners, “I’m the voice of Elmo.” so when these guys found out who he works for, they all want to come forward and sue Sesame Street & Co. It is sad that it has to be associated with Elmo. Clash should have been more private and discreet about it but no way do I think these boys were taken advantage of. They knew exactly what they were doing, however young or old they were. There are most likely more “clients” of theirs, but if you have a lot to lose, especially being married, who is going to come forward to defend clash?

    • Wilkies says:

      I am always astounded when I encounter people with this “kids are seducers” mentality. Thankfully they are in the minority and hopefully none of them serve in law enforcement ….in any capacity whatsoever.

      • Trashaddict says:

        Anybody who’s seen “townies” trolling the college campuses or bars knows that not all 16 year-olds are innocent victims. Some are, and some aren’t. I agree the accuser could easily have been abused and victimized when he was younger, he might even have been manipulated by Clash. The only 2 people in the world who know the answer to this for sure, are Clash and his accuser. When you get old enough, you make your own choices – trolling the internet? holding up your freaking ex-employer at gunpoint? really? very “god-fearing”. If Clash made his choice to troll the internet for these boys and put himself at risk for public exposure, that was his choice too and now he’s paying the price. I think it’s such a hard discussion about when people are old enough to make wise choices sexually. Some people never are. This is sad in just so many ways. If Clash had felt safe to be open about his sexuality, would he have been engaging in this kind of behavior in the first place?

      • Djinn says:

        Be astounded all you like. My first time was with a guy much older than me when I was of an age than if I was American and gay would have been statutory rape. Guy had no idea of my age and had every reason to think I was atleast 5 years older than I was. I chased him. You may not like it but while a 16 year old is not an adult they are also not children.

      • Laura says:

        When I was 14 I worked very hard to seduce the 29 year old next door. Why? Because I thought he was hot and he turned me on. I knew exactly what I was doing.
        I’m not saying that this is the case with every person sleeping with a teen, but it is a murky area.

  23. truetalk says:

    I only feel sorry for his 19yr old daughter.

  24. WOM says:

    The police need to investigate.

    There can be no justice for these alleged victims or no exoneration for Clash so long as the matter is handled by public relations professionals and lawyers.

  25. Lushus L. says:

    Grover was my favorite anyway.

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  27. SFRowGuy says:

    (/sarcasm on) Accuser recants his recant, wants more money. Didn’t see that one coming. And a half dozen other guys come crawling out of the sewers. Didn’t see that one coming either. (/sarcasm off)