All Articles Tagged "elmo"
It has been a few months since we’ve heard anything about the lawsuits pending against ex-Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash but that doesn’t mean the wheels haven’t been turning.
His lawyer Michael Berger filed a brief in the New York Federal Court on Friday claiming statute of limitations should be applicable in all three cases. He states:
“There are two applicable types of statutes of limitations, a six-year one based on when the right of action has accrued, and a three-year one based on when the alleged victim turned eighteen and was therefore no longer under the disability of being a minor.”
With that in mind, he went on to say that all three men – Cecil Singleton who said he first came in contact with Clash in 2003, “John Doe” who said his relationship began in 2000 and S.M., who said his affair with Clash happened in the mid-90s -would have had to file their lawsuits in 2009, 2006 and 2001, respectively to fit in the first option of the statute or in 2009, 2003 and 2001, respectively, to fit into the second statute.
It should be noted, and was pointed out by attorney Jeff Herman who represents all three men he spoke to E! Online, that there is no denial on Clash’s part of sexual misconduct:
“It should be noted his motion does not say the abuse did not happen, just that it is too late to file the complaints. The law we are proceeding under recognizes the rights of victims to bring their lawsuits within six years from the time they connect their injuries to the abuse. We are hopeful the Court will see it our way, however, by being able to bring their claims forth publicly the victims are already further along in the healing process.”
That is, indeed, interesting as is the fact that none of the alleged victims are seeking that criminal charges be brought up against Clash. These are all civil suits seeking financial damages.
If this goes to trial, it will be interesting to see how it plays out.
Clash’s latest loss comes from the hands of Warner Bros. Pictures, who has reportedly canned an untitled upcoming feature film that was in development with the puppeteer. According to development document obtained by Vulture, Clash was working with the studio in recent months to develop a new character centered around “a ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ kind of movie about a kid and his stuffed animal that takes on a life of its own because of the child’s imagination.”
Although Warner Bros. has severed ties with the developing film, one insider close to the project revealed to the site that it’s unlikely another studio may be interested in the motion picture due to Clash’s recent controversy.
Read the rest at BlackVoices
In MN’s Year In Review, we’re counting down our top stories as well as the biggest moments in television, music, movies, and news.
With so much going on every day, most news stories end up being big today and forgotten tomorrow, but these 10 stories were so shocking, sad, and disturbing they stuck with us all year. Check out the list:
In April, 18-year-old Port Richey, FL, mom Chekayla Dampier was arrested on charges of aggravated child abuse after she put her 7-week-old baby under scalding hot water to punish him for crying excessively. A little over a week later, the baby boy died from the burns he suffered as a result of the 142-degree water which left him with severe burns to his head, chest, arms, and even his eyes and ears.
Just a little over a week ago, allegations dropped that famed puppeteer Kevin Clash, who has been behind beloved characters like bass playing Clifford from “The Jim Henson Hour,” Baby Sinclair from the popular show “Dinosaurs” and of course, Elmo, had a relationship with an underage gentleman. Since then, Clash and his defense team have been very clear that they’re ready to fight the allegations as they said that while he did have a relationship with the accuser, Sheldon Stephens, they dated after the young man was of age. By the end of last week, Stephens recanted his claims, and then later claimed he was paid off and didn’t want to take back what he said. You would think that with the accuser’s credibility looking very tired at this point that Clash would be somewhere in good spirits, but today he spent the morning parting ways with the folks at the Sesame Workshop. According to a blog on The New York Times, after nearly 30 years of working for them, Clash decided that he could no longer be effective in his role with the company because of the negative attention surrounding him and resigned.
He probably came to this conclusion after reports came out that there is a second man saying he had an underage sexual relationship with the puppeteer. According to TMZ, the second accuser, Cecil Singleton, has come forward to say he had a relationship with Clash some 20 odd years ago but just came out about it because he “did not become aware that he had suffered adverse psychological and emotional effects from Kevin Clash’s sexual acts and conduct until 2012.”
While it remains to be seen what exactly will happen to Kevin Clash with all these new claims and reports coming out, according to The New York Times, Elmo will continue on as cash cow and pretty much the most famed puppet they have on Sesame Street. Someone else will fill the role of puppeteer for the beloved red monster and with the help of Clash, the company had already pinpointed people that could take over for him (maybe Clash was considering retiring soon?), and they had started to do so when allegations first came out. But at this point, everyone is asking how Clash’s reputation, which has been tarnished by the either true claims or malicious lies of a few, will affect the Sesame Street brand, particularly the character of Elmo. Will parents still be able to watch the show, check out “Elmo’s World” with their children and feel okay about it? Will they buy Elmo products more or less? Time will tell. If the allegations are false, hopefully Clash can have his name cleared (the claims just seem really shady since they’re coming around the same time and for the purpose of collecting money), but if they’re true, he’ll have to deal with the consequences and I’m pretty sure Elmo’s popularity will take an even bigger hit. But as someone who used to LOVE Elmo as a kid, and went on to be very fond of Clash after watching the documentary on his life, Being Elmo, I have to admit that this is a very sad day indeed for Muppet lovers everywhere.
Here’s a clip of Singleton making his case at a press conference today. Are you surprised Clash resigned? Was it the appropriate move at this point?
Over the last few days, media outlets have been buzzing with news surrounding the false claims made by Sheldon Stephons that Kevin Clash, the voice and personality behind popular Sesame Street character Elmo had sexual relations with him while he was underage. On Tuesday we reported that after making such an explosive claim, Stephon recanted his statement and revealed that his relationship with Clash occurred after he was of consenting age and that he was a willing participant. Unfortunately, the damage was already done and the Elmo visionary was forced to take a leave of absence from the show and his name was tarnished with scandal, something he may never completely recover from. Many were outraged and wondered why the 24-year-old would come out and tell such a damaging lie, but as we learn more and more about the accuser, things are beginning to make a little more sense. This morning the New York Post is shedding light on who Sheldon Stephans actually is and exposing his sketchy past.
For starters, he is an aspiring model, however there is no evidence of him ever working with any credible agency. He has also developed quite the rap sheet. According to the The Smoking Gun, his most serious offense is when he was arrested back in 2009 for allegedly robbing his former boss at knifepoint for a $250,000 gold necklace after being fired from an internship.
Criminal charges were initially filed against Stephens in a Pennsylvania court, where a judge ordered him held in lieu of $15,000 bail. The criminal complaint notes that a Beverly Hills Police Department detective told Pennsylvania investigators that he “would be filing charges in Beverly Hills for theft and other charges.”
Charges against Stephons were dropped two weeks later.
It was also revealed that the accuser’s mother is no stranger to crime herself as she was charged for allegedly stabbing her husband with scissors back in 2011.
We hope that Kevin Clash’s good name can be restored and that this trouble young man seeks professional help — or finds a jail cell to chill in.
Jazmine Denise is a writer living in New York. Follow her on Twitter @jazminedenise
Yesterday, when I found out that puppeteer Kevin Clash, the man who’s largely responsible for Sesame Street’s Elmo, had been accused of carrying on a sexual relationship with an underage boy, my heart hurt. The news literally messed up my morning.
But now, at the news that the man who accused Clash, has recanted his statement, saying that the relationship was both adult and consensual, I can breathe a huge sigh of relief. I was going to exaggerate and say my faith in humanity had been restored, but then I thought about how mean spirited and vicious this man must have been to falsely accuse Clash of this type of relationship, knowing his career is centered around entertaining children.
Even though this anonymous man has recanted his statement, the damage has already been done. Kevin’s name has already been slandered, his reputation has already been compromised and his legacy a bit tarnished by a bold faced lie. While I’m happy the Mr. Anon decided to come clean, I’m saddened by the fact that he even had to take it there in the first place because we all know that bad news travels 20 times faster than good news.
Hopefully, people will get the full story and Clash can go back to doing the work he’s done so well for the past 30+ years.
I can’t say that I’m all that surprised to read the allegations against Kevin Clash, the puppeteer behind Sesame Street’s most beloved character, Elmo, who has been accused of having a sexual relationship with a young man that started when the individual was 16.
I don’t have any inside information about whether the allegations against him are true or not – I’ll just wait for the investigation to conclude before totally disavowing a crucial part of my childhood (i.e. Elmo). But I will admit that whenever I hear these stories of adult men, who spend their time in the company of children, being the subject of some sort of inappropriate conduct involving children, I say, “yeah, I can see that.” In fact, I know a few women who are outright hostile to the idea of leaving their children in the company of men, including teachers, coaches, even among family members. “As a woman, a mother, a concerned citizen and mostly a survivor, I am very skeptical of men being around children,” said one friend via Facebook.
Statistically speaking, men are the gender most represented among offenders of sexual assaults, abuse and violence. That fact alone is probably the best argument to be made for our skepticism. But is this a healthy attitude to have towards men in general? Is it fair to assume all men are potential predators of sexual abuse and aggression until proven otherwise?
Recently, I saw this provocatively titled documentary, Are All Men Pedophiles, which as the title suggests, raises the question of whether or not we are being conditioned to assume that all men are sexual predators and pedophiles. According to Jans-Willem Breure, director of the film, all men are potential “hebephiles” — that is, attracted to pubescent children. Our society is built on idolizing youth, he theorizes, and usually sexualizes children through the media, fashion and through music. Therefore, you can’t necessarily blame men for finding teens sexually attractive. Breure’s other theme in the film is that since the age of consent is arbitrary and has been culturally and throughout history, maybe it is time to retire the archaic belief that frowns upon adult and teenage relations.
I don’t know if I am quite ready to have sympathy for pedophiles (nope, don’t see that happening), which is why I can’t totally co-sign this documentary. Breure, who said in an interview that his inspiration for this film came from his own attraction to teenage girls, might be playing fast and loose with the technicalities and gray areas. Overall, the documentary is very one-sided and narrow in scope. Sexuality is reduced down to a fetish as opposed to an expression of genuine love and affection. We are lead to believe that age is nothing but a number, but missing from the documentary are voices of the teens and children to articulate how they feel about being the object of a grown person’s sexual desires. Instead, we only get to rely on the opinions of “experts,” some of whom are pedophiles and people with pedophilic thoughts and tendencies.
But not to throw the baby totally out with the bathwater, Breure does raise a compelling point about how society is almost always hush about female pedophiles. The way stories of female abusers are presented in the media tends to take on a more mocking tone or looked upon as a farce. The female offenders are treated as seductresses and their young male victims as “lucky boys.” No wonder woman-on-man sexual assault is less likely to be reported than the reverse.
As we become increasingly more suspicious of the male sexual predator, the more it becomes socially acceptable to excuse, or flat out ban men from certain corners of society – you know, for the sake of the children. Recently I read a story about a play center in the UK, which absolutely banned boys/men over the age of nine from its facility. A couple of days ago, I read another story about an Australian man, traveling on Virgin Airlines, who was asked by a flight attendant to change seats with a female passenger so he would no longer be next to two unaccompanied minors. In his blog post titled My Virgin Experience as a Pedophile, Johnny McGirr wrote of his experience:
“Men are policemen, doctors, social workers, teachers… people who are entrusted to the care of children but according to Virgin once you step on one of their planes you are a pedophile or a potential pedophile.”
Even in my own personal prejudices and biases, if a woman was sitting alone in the playground, I would probably guess that she is enjoying nature or her alone time. But if it was a man sitting alone in that same playground, I might assume more dubious motivations. For that, I kind of feel sorry for men. However, for every falsely accused man in the world there are dozens – if not hundreds of heartbreaking stories of folks doing God-awful things to children. So it is best to always air on the side of caution and pay attention, regardless of gender, to who these people are that we have around our children.
Kevin Clash doesn’t have to worry about how to get to Sesame Street for a while because the beloved voice of Elmo is involved in a major scandal right now. The 55-year-old who has been the voice of the popular red puppet since 1984 has been accused of having a sexual relationship with an underage boy and has subsequently been placed on a leave of absence.
According to a statement from Sesame’s Workshop:
In June of this year, Sesame Workshop received a communication from a then 23 year old man who alleged that he had a relationship beginning when he was 16 years old with Kevin Clash, a Sesame Workshop puppeteer who performs as Elmo.
We took the allegation very seriously and took immediate action. We met with the accuser twice and had repeated communications with him. We met with Kevin, who denied the accusation. We also conducted a thorough investigation and found the allegation of underage conduct to be unsubstantiated. Although this was a personal relationship unrelated to the workplace, our investigation did reveal that Kevin exercised poor judgment and violated company policy regarding internet usage and he was disciplined.
Kevin insists that the allegation of underage conduct is false and defamatory and he is taking actions to protect his reputation. We have granted him a leave of absence to do so.
Elmo is bigger than any one person and will continue to be an integral part of Sesame Street to engage, educate and inspire children around the world, as it has for 40 years.
This news is obviously a major blow to Clash’s legacy. He is, or perhaps was, approaching 30 years as the voice of Elmo and has won a number of awards for his work with Sesame Street, including 10 Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Performer in a Children’s Series. When TMZ asked the actor, who was previously married and is the father of one daughter, about the situation he told the site:
“I had a relationship with [the accuser]. It was between two consenting adults and I am deeply saddened that he is trying to make it into something it was not.”
You do have to question the motive of this man coming forward wth this allegation seven years after their relationship supposedly began. This story definitely has the potential to be evidence a lover’s quarrel gone wrong. I definitely hope this story isn’t true.
You may or may not have known the man behind Sesame Street’s most famous character is black. Although Kevin Clash wasn’t the first puppeteer to work with Elmo, he’s certainly taken the red monster the farthest. Clash’s own personal journey is quite interesting, so much so that there’s a documentary that was first screened in January of this year. The film is still being screened in various locations around the country. Check out a trailer from the documentary below.