Update: Man Who Accused Elmo Puppeteer of Underage Sexual Relationship Revealed
It's been a rough week for Kevin Clash, the man who is the puppeteer for Elmo, after an unidentified 24-year-old man accused the actor on Monday of having sex with him when he was still under the age of consent. But as quickly as the scandal went viral, the mystery man recanted his story and admitted his relationship with Clash occurred when he was an adult and that it was consensual.
Now, the Smoking Gun and several other sites have revealed the identity of the false accuser: one Sheldon Stephens, an aspiring male model and actor currently residing in Pennsylvania.
Stephens' original claim that Clash, a 52-year-old divorced father of a grown daughter, had a sexual relationship with him when he was 16. The allegations caused Clash to take a leave of absence from playing the iconic red monster on "Sesame Street" and forced him to acknowledge that he is gay. Clash, however, insisted that he did have a relationship with Stephens but that at the time, he was of legal age for consensual sex.
Sesame Workshop, which produces the beloved children's program, said it was first contacted by Stephens in June and launched an investigation, which included interviews with the accuser and Clash. But the company said it found the charge to be unsubstantiated, the Associated Press points out.
The Smoking Gun notes that Stephens has yet to be formally identified but a family member and a friend confirmed with the gossip site that the 24-year-old he is the man who accused Clash. Since the article was published, both Gawker and the British newspaper the Daily Mail have confirmed that the struggling model is the man in question.
It's also come out that Stephens had a criminal record before the latest brouhaha. In 2009, Stephens was arrested for robbing Darian Pollard, the head of DP Music Entertainment Group, at knifepoint and stole $250,000 worth of jewelry, which included a white gold necklace with diamonds and a white gold ring with diamond baguettes. The music manager told authorities Stephens, who was an intern at the company, was wearing the jewelry he stole but the young man insisted they were gifts. Due to a lack of evidence, the charges against him were dismissed two weeks later.
Details about Clash and Stephens' relationship are still fuzzy. It is not known how the two men met or how long their relationship (such as it was) lasted. Stephens did live in New York City for a while; Clash currently lives on Manhattan's West Side. Additionally, the Smoking Gun notes that a friend of Stephens said that he "attracts these high-powered men" but he was a "God-fearing guy" and "not just a pretty boy."
Apparently, Anderozzi & Associates, the law firm that released a statement on Wednesday stating that Stephens' recanted his story, is no longer representing him.
TMZ claims the men's lawyers were working out a six-figure settlement just before Stephens admitted to have made up the whole story. After the incident, Clash said in a statement that he was "relieved that this painful allegation has been put to rest."
On his Twitter account, Stephens describes himself as an "Entrepreneur, Student, Model, Actor." In his Facebook "About" section he writes, "I like to consider myself a rare breed. I'm very spontaneous and random...I'm determined and goal oriented. My destiny is laid on a solid gold brick pathway....... MY FUTURE IS BRIGHT and never will it dim."