If you wonder why the accuser of Kevin Clash — now identified as Sheldon Stephens — would accuse the (former?) Elmo voice of having sex with him when he was only 16, then recant the accusation just days later, the answer appears to be six figures, according to a Saturday report. We’re not talking about six Elmo action figures; we’re talking about six figures of cash.
While nothing has been said publicly, sources close to the situation say that Clash — the voice of Elmo, at least until Sesame Street Workshop (SSW)granted him a leave of absence — agreed to pay Stephens $125,000, with the caveat that the now adult male recant his story that Clash had sex with him while Stephens was a minor.
That led, according to the report, to Stephens releasing a statement through his representatives, Andreozzi & Associates, that said:
He [Stephens] wants it to be known that his sexual relationship with Mr. Clash was an adult consensual relationship. He will have no further comment on the matter.
The agreement was signed just hours before the accusation was withdrawn. It included the following clause:
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.”
Moreover, the settlement document adds that any further comment from Stephens must only be the above statement and nothing further.
According the report on the settlement, although Stephens publicly states the above, in private, he continues to assert Clash had sex with him when he was a sixteen-year-old minor, adding that he was coerced into signing the settlement.
In addition, one source said that Stephens was weeping during the final stages of the negotiations and repeatedly said he did not want to sign the document.
Although, at least publicly, Clash has been cleared, it’s not known if he will return to Sesame Street to voice Elmo. As SSW said when the first reports of the allegations went public,
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.
Clash is divorced and has one daughter. He began voicing Elmo, SSW’s furry red monster in 1984. Earlier this year, he took home his 21st Emmy and his fourth in a row for “best performer in a children’s series” as Elmo.