Pop Culture

Ex-Elmo puppeteer accused of sexual abuse by fifth man

Lucas Jackson / Reuters file / Today
Kevin Clash with the puppet Elmo in 2010.

Kevin Clash, the man who voiced the popular puppet Elmo on "Sesame Street," is facing accusations of underage sex abuse by a fifth man. On Tuesday, a new federal lawsuit was filed against the puppeteer in New York. The latest suit accuses Clash of sexually abusing Kevin Kiadii, 25, who was 16 at the time of the alleged incident.

Kiadii claims in his lawsuit that the two met via a gay phone chat line, and that it was Clash who initiated the contact. According to the suit, the puppeteer invited the young man over to his Manhattan apartment and sent a luxury car to Kiadii's home to pick him up. Kiadii also claims that Clash gave him alcohol and "groomed him with attention and affection" before engaging in sexual contact. The suit alleges that Kiadii was a "compliant victim" who "was not immediately aware of his injuries."

Kiadii is suing for actual and compensatory damages, costs of the lawsuit and attorneys' fees. The lawsuit was filed by attorney Jeff Herman, who also represents four other men who have filed sexual abuse suits against Clash.

"The allegations in this lawsuit follow the same pattern we've seen before," Herman said in a statement. "Each of these victims alleges that Kevin Clash was a father figure who groomed them with attention before engaging them in sexual contact. By coming forward and standing up for his 16-year-old self, Kevin Kiadii has taken the first step in his healing process."

Clash's attorney, Michael Berger, said in a statement Tuesday that the latest lawsuit is without merit and is barred by the statute of limitations.

"This case has been brought by the same lawyer, Jeff Herman, who brought three other similar cases in federal courts in New York, and we have moved to dismiss all three of those cases," Berger added. "Mr. Clash continues to deny any wrongdoing, and we intend to defend this case forcefully."

Clash resigned from "Sesame Street" in November last year.

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