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4:29 AM / Friday August 12, 2022

18 Nov 2012

Man who accused Elmo puppeteer of teen sex recants

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November 18, 2012 Category: Entertainment Posted by:

ABOVE PHOTO: Puppeteer Kevin Clash and Sesame Street’s Elmo

(AP photo)

 

By Frazier Moore

Associated Press

 

NEW YORK — A man who accused Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash of having sex with him when he was a teenage boy has recanted his story.

 

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The man who accused Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash of having a sexual relationship with him when he was a minor has been identified, and he has a rap sheet of his own, notes The Hollywood Reporter.

 

As reported by eurweb.com, Sheldon Stephens, a 24-year-old aspiring model and actor, has been named by The Smoking Gun as the anonymous man who claimed Monday he’d had sex with Clash at the age of 16. He has since recanted those allegations, saying Tuesday he was of legal age when the relationship happened.

 

On his Twitter account biography, Stephens describes himself as an “Entrepreneur, Student, Model, Actor.” According to one of his friends, Stephens “attracts these high-powered men” and is a “God-fearing guy” and “not just a pretty boy.”

 

Stephens, a resident of Harrisburg, Pa., ran afoul of the law in 2009 when he was accused of robbing $250,000 worth of jewelry from his former boss at knife point after he had been fired from an internship.

 

Music manager Darian Pollard reported to the Beverly Hills Police Department that his former intern had stolen “white gold necklace with diamonds” and a “white gold ring with diamond baguettes,” before hopping on a flight from Los Angeles to Pennsylvania.

 

Harris was arrested at the airport in Pennsylvania, wearing the jewelry. Although a Beverly Hills detective told Pennsylvania authorities charges would be filed in California, it seems they never were. Charges were dropped against Stephens in his home state two weeks after his airport arrest.

 

PHOTO: Sheldon Stephens.

 

According to The Smoking Gun, his other legal troubles include pleading guilty to reckless driving in May and passing a bad check last year, though that charge was dismissed after he made good with the Harrisburg business he’d written the check at.

 

Stephens’ resume includes several internships as well as employment at a few New York clothing stores.

 

He lives with his mother, 48-year-old Felicia Stephens, in her Harrisburg apartment.

 

His mother has had her own legal troubles. She was charged with attempted murder in March after allegedly stabbing her husband with scissors. She is out on bail and is due in court next month, where she also faces a felony aggravated assault charge.

 

In a quick turnabout, Stephens on Tuesday described his sexual relationship with Clash as adult and consensual.

 

Clash responded with a statement of his own, saying he is “relieved that this painful allegation has been put to rest.” He had no further comment.

 

Stephens, who had not identified himself, released his statement through the Harrisburg, Pa., law firm Andreozzi & Associates.

 

Sesame Workshop, which produces “Sesame Street” in New York, soon followed by saying, “We are happy that Kevin can move on from this unfortunate episode.”

 

The whirlwind episode began Monday morning, when Sesame Workshop startled the world by announcing that Clash had taken a leave of absence from “Sesame Street” in the wake of allegations that he had had a relationship with a 16-year-old.

 

Clash, a 52-year-old divorced father of a grown daughter, swiftly denied the charges of his accuser, who is in his early 20s. In that statement Clash acknowledged that he is gay but said the relationship had been between two consenting adults.

 

Though it remained unclear where the relationship took place, sex with a person under 17 is a felony in New York if the perpetrator is at least 21.

 

Sesame Workshop, which said it was first contacted by the accuser in June, had launched an investigation that included meeting with the accuser twice and meeting with Clash. Its investigation found the charge of underage conduct to be unsubstantiated.

 

Clash said on Monday he would take a break from Sesame Workshop “to deal with this false and defamatory allegation.”

 

Neither Clash nor Sesame Workshop indicated on Tuesday when he might return to the show, on which he has performed as Elmo since 1984.

 

Elmo had previously been a marginal character, but Clash, supplying the fuzzy red puppet with a high-pitched voice and a carefree, child-like personality, launched the character into major stardom. Elmo soon rivaled Big Bird as the face of “Sesame Street.”

 

Though usually behind the scenes, Clash meanwhile achieved his own measure of fame. In 2006, he published an autobiography, “My Life as a Furry Red Monster,” and he was the subject of the 2011 documentary “Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey.”

 

He has won 23 daytime Emmy awards and one prime-time Emmy.

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