By Dawn Cranfield
Elmo Loves You – But What About Handler Kevin Clash?
Television’s tiniest viewers have taken a hit for the second time this year. First, one of the leading political candidates for the most important job in our country opined that he wanted to cut funding to PBS, and now one of the most beloved children’s characters has been scandalized.
While PBS (Public Broadcasting Station) does provide diverse programming for adults as well, its’ staple of children’s shows usually come to mind whenever referring to the network. Of particular interest this year has been the famed neighborhood, Sesame Street; the home of Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, and Bert and Ernie.
Big Bird made several appearances in response to Mitt Romney’s threat of cutting funds, most notably on Saturday Night Live. When President Obama won the election, I can only imagine the puppets and their handlers breathed in a collective sigh of relief.
Until last week, when puppeteer Kevin Clash, voice of cherished character Elmo, was accused of unbecoming behavior by Sheldon Stephens. Stephens, originally claimed he was 16 years old, a minor, when he began a sexual relationship with Clash. He was offered a $125,000 settlement, which he agreed to, and signed a letter stating that he and Clash did not begin their sexual relationship until he was an adult.
This week, another man, Cecil Singleton has filed a $5 million lawsuit claiming he and Clash were involved in “a torrid two-week romance marked by mutual groping, masturbation and heavy make-out sessions followed despite Singleton’s admission that he was just a high school sophomore.” (NY Daily News) Singleton asserts he came forward because he heard about the other case and initially believed he thought he was
the only one.
Now, Sheldon Stephens, the original accuser, wants to withdraw his settlement agreement stating now he was actually a minor. He would like to return the settlement money he was given, according to an article on the NY Daily News.
Singleton’s lawsuit goes on to state that he “suffered ‘psychological and emotional effects’ from the relationship”. (NY Daily News)
Reading the comments posted on the already numerous articles posted on this subject, Kevin Clash has already been found guilty with no evidence. The fact that the first accuser was paid $125,000 means nothing, insurance companies do it all the time, it often costs less than trials and negative publicity. The second accuser does little to lend credibility either; a two week period in a 16 year-olds life, with a report 8 years later. Oh, and don’t forget the $5 million ransom for this man’s career. Last but not least is the revocation of the original complaint; could it be he saw the bigger lawsuit and felt he missed out on “the big one”?
When you are 16 years old, you are only 2 years away from being old enough to vote, to die for your country, 5 years away from drinking legally, and you are old enough to drive a car at 16, so potentially you are driving a deadly weapon. At 16, if you do not want to have a sexual relationship with somebody, don’t.
Kevin Clash has resigned from Sesame Street, “None of us, especially Kevin, want anything to divert our attention from our focus on serving as a leading educational organization,” the statement read. “This is a sad day for Sesame Street.” (NY Daily News) Indeed, a sad day for all.